Efficacy of microneedle vaccine patches demonstrated

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently demonstrated that the measles vaccine remains effective for at least 30 days when placed onto microneedles.

The dried vaccine prompted a potent immune response in an animal model that was similar to the response from a standard hypodermic vaccine. The research was published in October in the journal Vaccine and will appear in a special issue of the publication, Science Blog reports.

"We showed in this study that measles vaccine delivered using a microneedle patch produced an immune response that is indistinguishable from the response produced when the vaccine is delivered subcutaneously," Chris Edens, the study's first author, said, according to Science Blog.

Hypodermic needles require refrigeration, trained medical personnel and proper disposal procedures. Microneedle patches would reduce waste and could be done by personnel with less medical training.

"A major advantage would be the ease of delivery," Mark Prausnitz, one of the inventors of the microneedle patch, said, according to Science Blog. "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."

The researchers first stabilized a liquid measles vaccine to a formulation that could be applied to stainless steel microneedles and dried for packaging. They then tested the vaccines and found that the immune response using the microneedle vaccine remained robust.

Microneedles are currently being studied for the influenza, polio, hepatitis B, tuberculosis and rotavirus vaccination.

"This represents a different direction for us, which is campaign-mode global health vaccination," Prausnitz said, according to Science Blog. "I see the greatest impact of the measles patch being in developing-country vaccination programs where the logistical advantages of this simple-to-use technology will have the most public health benefit."