The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $10 million to the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University and PATH, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization, to advance a technology for the painless, self-administration of flu vaccine using patches containing tiny microneedles that dissolve into the skin.
The five-year grant will be used to address key technical issues and advance the microneedle patch through a Phase I clinical trial. The grant will also be used to compare the effectiveness of traditional intramuscular injection of flu vaccine against administration of vaccine into the skin using microneedle patches. In animals, vaccination with dissolving microneedles has been shown to provide immunization better than vaccination with hypodermic needles.
"We believe that this technology will increase the number of people being vaccinated, especially among the most susceptible populations of children and the elderly," said Mark Prausnitz, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and the project's principal investigator. "If we can make it easier for people to be vaccinated and improve the effectiveness of the vaccine, we could significantly reduce the number of deaths caused every year by influenza."
Vaccine-delivery patches contain hundreds of micron-scale needles so small that they penetrate only the outer layers of skin. Their small size would allow vaccines to be administered without pain and could allow people to apply the patches themselves without visiting medical facilities.
While the ability to immunize large numbers of people without using trained medical personnel is a key advantage for the microneedle patch, the researchers have learned that administering the vaccine through the skin creates a different kind of immune response one that may protect vaccine recipients better.
"We have seen evidence that the vaccine works even better when administered t
|Contact: John Toon|
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News