Researchers demonstrate successful use of injection-free vaccine

Scientists at King's College London recently demonstrated the ability to deliver a needle-free dried live vaccine to the skin that was powerful enough to stimulate a specialized immune response.

The research team used a silicone mold developed by U.S. company TheraJect to create a painless microneedle array with a live modified HIV vaccine candidate. In a mouse study, the team found that a subset of specialized dendritic cells in the skin triggered an immune response that activated the immune system against the disease, Science Daily reports.

At room temperature, the dried microneedle vaccine was also found to produce an immune response that was equivalent to a traditional needle vaccine preserved by refrigeration.

"We have shown that it is possible to maintain the effectiveness of a live vaccine by drying it in sugar and applying it to the skin using microneedles - a potentially painless alternative to hypodermic needles," Linda Klavinskis, one of the authors of the study, said, according to Science Daily. "We have also uncovered the role of specific cells in the skin which act as a surveillance system, picking up the vaccine by this delivery system and kick-starting the body's immune processes. This work opens up the exciting possibility of being able to deliver live vaccines in a global context, without the need for refrigeration."

Klavinskis also said that the new vaccine could reduce the cost of transportation and manufacturing, improve potency and reduce the risk of blood-borne disease transmission from contaminated needles.

The study, which was published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.