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Researchers Develop Microneedle Patch for Flu Vaccination

29 June 2017
Researchers Develop Microneedle Patch for Flu Vaccination

Despite seasonal calls nationwide to protect agains the flu, reports indicate only about 40% of adults in the US get flu shots.

Professor Prausnitz has been working for many years to develop the microneedle patch technology and said: "It's very gratifying and exciting to have these patches tested in a clinical trial, and with a result that turned out so well".

Everyone in the self-administration group successfully administered the patch, and results for all the patch groups showed that the needles had dissolved into the skin.

John McCauley, director of the Worldwide Influenza Centre at the Francis Crick Institute in London, said the research could lead to higher uptake rates of vaccines. However, studies with similar technologies for delivering vaccines have been largely limited to animals.

The microneedle patches are also easier to use compared to traditional methods. "The patches can also be stored outside the refrigerator, so you could even mail them to people".

More impressive was that the patch provided just as many antibodies as the jab, with 96 per cent of those using it noting it was pain-free technique while 70 per cent stated they preferred the approach over a needle. The patch's manufacturer, Global Center for Medical Innovation in Atlanta, is investigating using the device for other vaccines, including for measles, mumps and rubella.

The trial began in June 2015 with 100 participants aged 18 to 49 who were healthy and who had not received the flu jab during the 2014-15 flu season.

"It's kind of like a band-aid nearly", Daisy Bourassa, a college instructor and one of the volunteers in the testing of the patches, said.

A preliminary study has shown that an experimental flu vaccine patch which has dissolving micro needles can work as effectively as a flu shot.

"Despite the recommendation for adults and children to receive a flu shot, many people remain unvaccinated", researcher Nadine Rouphael, MD, associate professor of medicine in the department of infectious diseases at Emory University, told Infectious Disease News.

Both the patch and the injection caused reactions at the application sites in the following days: The patch was more likely to cause itching and redness, and the injection was more likely to cause pain. The researchers hope to kick off a later-stage trial that would involve more people soon. The microneedle patch performed about the same as an injection, regardless of whether the patient had administered it themselves or had a doctor do it.

The new patches are also easier to ship to different parts of the United States and other countries compared to other flu vaccines, which must be kept well refrigerated.

Public Health England estimated an average 8,000 people die from flu in England each year.

In the first human trial of its kind, those in the other three groups all applied a patch to the wrist for 20 minutes, allowing the microneedles time to dissolve before the backing was removed and disposed of.

Not only do the patches offer a low-priced procedure and reduce risky waste, but they can be applied by the patient and do not need to be kept cold since they are stable at 40C for a year.