Pain­less patch could re­place flu jab: Study

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Vac­cines de­liv­ered via a pain­less, throw-away patch could one day elim­i­nate the need for nee­dle-and-sy­ringe flu in­jec­tions, re­searchers said Wed­nes­day af­ter com­plet­ing a pre­lim­i­nary trial. Equipped with mi­cro-nee­dles, the patches vac­ci­nated against in­fluenza just as ef­fec­tively as a stan­dard flu jab, they re­ported in the med­i­cal jour­nal The Lancet. “This ban­dage-strip sized patch of dis­solv­able nee­dles can trans­form how we get vac­ci­nated,” said Roderic Pet­ti­grew, di­rec­tor of the US Na­tional In­sti­tute of Bio­med­i­cal Imag­ing and Bio­engi­neer­ing, which funded the study.

The new tech­nol­ogy can be self­ad­min­is­tered and stored with­out re­frig­er­a­tion, mak­ing it sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper than tra­di­tional vac­cines. “It holds the prom­ise for de­liv­er­ing other vac­cines in the fu­ture,” Pet­ti­grew added. A hun­dred tiny nee­dles-just long enough to pen­e­trate the skin-em­bed­ded in each patch dis­solve within min­utes when ex­posed to mois­ture from the body. Ad­he­sive holds the patch close the skin while the vaccine is re­leased, and can be peeled away af­ter 20 min­utes and dis­carded.

In phase I clin­i­cal tri­als, re­searchers from Emory Univer­sity in Ge­or­gia and the Ge­or­gia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy randomly di­vided 100 adults into four groups. Three re­ceived the mi­cro-nee­dle patches: one de­liv­ered by a health­care provider; one self-ad­min­is­tered; and the third-de­liv­ered by a nurse-a placebo with­out any ac­tive in­gre­di­ents. The fourth group re­ceived a clas­sic flu jab with a sy­ringe. All the ac­tive flu vac­cines worked equally well for at least six months, re­gard­less of whether they were de­liv­ered by pro­fes­sion­als or the pa­tient, or whether they were ad­min­is­tered by a sy­ringe or a mi­cro-nee­dle. The man­u­fac­tur­ing cost for the patches is ex­pected to be about the same as for pre­filled sy­ringes. But the patch is ex­pected to be cheaper be­cause it can be sent through the mail and self-ad­min­is­tered. In ad­di­tion, it is sta­ble for a year at 40 de­grees Cel­sius, and does not re­quire re­frig­er­a­tion, the re­searchers said.

“These ad­van­tages could re­duce the cost of the flu vaccine and po­ten­tially in­crease cov­er­age,” said lead au­thor Na­dine Rouphael, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor at Emory. “Our find­ings now need con­firm­ing in larger tri­als.” Mark Praus­nitz, a pro­fes­sor at the Ge­or­gia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, led the de­sign of the small coin-sized patch, and is co-founder of a com­pany that is li­cens­ing the tech­nol­ogy. De­spite rec­om­men­da­tions for uni­ver­sal vac­ci­na­tion, less than half the pop­u­la­tion in the United States cur­rently gets a flu jab. In­fluenza kills some 48,000 peo­ple in the US ev­ery year.—AFP

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