Because it requires a hypodermic needle injection, measles immunization programs must be carried out by trained medical personnel. Finally, used needles and syringes must be properly disposed of to prevent potential disease transmission or reuse.
Use of microneedle patches could eliminate the need to transport needles, syringes and sterile water, reducing logistical demands. Vaccination could be done by personnel with less medical training, who would simply apply the patches to the skin and remove them after several minutes, making possible door-to-door campaigns similar to those used in polio vaccination. Single-use patches could also reduce the waste of vaccine that occurs when all ten doses in a vial cannot be used.
"A major advantage would be the ease of delivery," said Mark Prausnitz, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and one of the inventors of the microneedle patch. "Microneedles would allow us to move away from central locations staffed by health care personnel to the use of minimally-trained personnel who would go out to homes to administer the vaccine."
Many countries in the Western Hemisphere have eliminated endemic transmission of the disease, though travelers often serve as sources for imported cases. However, measles remains the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death among children elsewhere in the world, prompting interest in alternative vaccination techniques.
"Measles is extremely infectious, and we need an immunization coverage rate of around 95 percent to interrupt its transmission," said Dr. Paul Rota, Measles Laboratory Team Lead of CDC's Division of Viral Diseases and one of the study's co-authors. "Microneedles represent a real potential game-changer in developing strategies to get high global coverage for a measles vaccine."
In their study, the CDC-Georgia Tech team first faced the challenge of converting a liquid
|Contact: John Toon|
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News