Other through-the-skin vaccine delivery attempts have failed to produce enough an immune response, in part because the thickness and water content of people's skin varies by age, race and ethnicity far more than a mouse skin. However, the new technology appears to overcome that by delivering the vaccine slightly deeper, Bright added.
The next step is getting funding to begin clinical trials, which researchers said they hope to being in the next couple of years.
In a normal flu shot, vaccine is delivered into the muscle. With the patch, the vaccine is encased in water-soluble polymer needles on the patch. When placed on the skin, the needles dissolve almost immediately, delivering vaccine into the skin and provoking a localize immune response.
From there, the immune cells travel via the lymph system through the body, prompting a systemic, or whole body, immunization -- at least in mice.
The mice who had the patches showed a robust immune response to the vaccine. In addition, the vaccinated mice easily survived what would have otherwise been a lethal dose of the flu.
In addition to its other benefits, a skin patch vaccine would not have to be refrigerated, a problem in developing countries, and there would be fewer medical waste issues, such as disposing of used syringes, researchers said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the flu.
SOURCES: Sean Sullivan, Ph.D., Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga.; Rick Bright, Ph.D, scientific director, Influenza Vaccine Project, PATH, Washington, D.C; Paul A. Offit, M.D., director, Vaccine Education Center and chief of infectious diseases, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, P
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