Scientists at King's College London have demonstrated the ability to deliver a dried live vaccine to the skin without a traditional needle, and shown for the first time that this technique is powerful enough to enable specialised immune cells in the skin to kick-start the immunising properties of the vaccine.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers say although it is an early study this important technical advance offers a potential solution to the challenges of delivering live vaccines in resource-limited countries globally, without the need for refrigeration. A cheaper alternative to hypodermic needles, it would also remove safety risks from needle contamination and the pain-free administration could lead to more people taking up a vaccination. The researchers add that it could have an impact beyond infectious disease vaccination programmes, for example managing autoimmune and inflammatory conditions such as diabetes.
HIV, malaria and TB represent major global health challenges. Although promising research is underway to develop vaccines for these diseases, considerable stumbling blocks remain for countries where transporting and storing live vaccines in a continuously cold environment (around 2C to 8C or below) would not be possible. If a cold chain cannot be maintained for a live vaccine there is a high risk it could become unsafe and lose effectiveness.
The team at King's used a silicone mould developed by US company TheraJect to create a microneedle array a tiny disc with several micro-needles made of sugar which dissolve when inserted into the skin. The team formulated a dried version of a live modified adenovirus-based candidate HIV vaccine in sugar (sucrose) and used the mould to create the microneedle array. They found that the dried live vaccine remained stable and effective at room temperature.
To test the effe
|Contact: Katherine Barnes|
King's College London