In April the NIH awarded a $32.8 million, seven-year contract to Emory, along with the University of Georgia, to establish the Emory/UGA Influenza Pathogenesis and Immunology Research Center, for which Dr. Compans is principal investigator. The center is working to improve the effectiveness of flu vaccines through a number of different projects studying how influenza viruses attack their hosts, how they are transmitted, and what new immune targets might be identified for antiviral medicines.
Dr. Prausnitz and his colleagues have been working since the mid 1990s to develop microneedle technology for painless drug and vaccine delivery through the skin. Much smaller than conventional hypodermic needles, the microneedles in the arrays are made of titanium, stainless steel or various polymers--including some that could dissolve into the skin, carrying vaccine with them. The Georgia Tech team has also developed manufacturing processes for microneedle patches and tested the ability of the needles to deliver proteins, vaccines, nanoparticles, and small and large molecules through the skin.
"We expect microneedles to be less painful than conventional hypodermic needles because they are too small to significantly stimulate nerve endings," says Dr. Prausnitz. "The NIH grants will allow us to move forward with perfecting the manufacturing process, refining the techniques for optimally inserting the microneedles into the skin and ensuring that vaccine delivered this way produces the necessary immune response.
|Contact: Holly Korschun|