DNA vaccines hold promise of overcoming the downsides of traditional vaccinations, potentially allowing for effective defense against HIV and other viral infections. Delivering DNA snippets that code for viral proteins into the insides of cells is a bit tricky and currently requires using electroporation to open pores within cell walls. The technique is not terribly effective and can be painful on the patients. Now researchers from MIT are reporting in Nature Materials the development of a new skin patch, which they like to call a “multilayer tattoo,” capable of delivering DNA vaccines in a more civilized fashion.
The team embedded the vaccine within multiple layers of a polymer film which sits on top of a bed of microneedles that painlessly create a passageway into the body. The polymer film begins degrading once in contact with water and safely releases its cargo.
From the study abstract in Nature Materials:
Films transferred into the skin following brief microneedle application promoted local transfection and controlled the persistence of DNA and adjuvants in the skin from days to weeks, with kinetics determined by the film composition. These ‘multilayer tattoo’ DNA vaccines induced immune responses against a model HIV antigen comparable to electroporation in mice, enhanced memory T-cell generation, and elicited 140-fold higher gene expression in non-human primate skin than intradermal DNA injection, indicating the potential of this strategy for enhancing DNA vaccination.
Press release: A safer way to vaccinate
Study abstract in Nature Materials: Polymer multilayer tattooing for enhanced DNA vaccination