Flu vaccine delivered through painless microneedles in patches applied to the skin could soon be an alternative to delivery through hypodermic needles, according to researchers at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Using new grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling approximately $11.5 million over five years, researchers from the two institutions plan to develop a new vaccine product using the microscopic needles.
"A vaccine administered through a skin patch would have a number of advantages, including less discomfort to the recipients, lower cost and reduced production time," says Richard Compans, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology in the Emory School of Medicine. "Potentially, individuals could administer the vaccine to themselves, perhaps after receiving it in the mail."
The Georgia Tech and Emory team plans to develop and assess the effectiveness of transdermal patches that include arrays of microscopic needles containing or coated with vaccine. They hope to design patches that could be stored for long periods of time at room temperature and that will increase the breadth and duration of immunity to influenza perhaps with smaller amounts of vaccine.
"We expect that this research will lead to a better way of delivering the flu vaccine, which will allow more people who need it to receive the immunization in a convenient and effective way," says Mark Prausnitz, PhD, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. "Beyond that, the possibility of replacing a hypodermic needle with a microneedle patch should significantly impact the way that other vaccines are delivered."
The project team has extensive experience in microneedle development, influenza vaccines, vaccine delivery systems, product development and interdisciplinary collaboration. Beyond influenza, the research could have implications for immunization programs in developing
|Contact: Holly Korschun|