Novel vaccine patch in development for use against ear infections

A new type of vaccine that will be absorbed through the skin via a dime-sized patch is being developed for use against the bacteria responsible for half of all ear infections.

Experts have said the vaccine, which is being researched by scientists from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in central Ohio, could make some types of ear infections as rare as once prevalent illnesses like smallpox and polio, reports.

"For a child, a non-needle vaccine has obvious benefits, but our research also shows that delivering the therapy through the skin sets off beneficial immune responses we might not see otherwise," Laura Novotny, chief research associate at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's, said, according to

The vaccine's latest animal study, which was recently published in the journal Vaccine, shows that the experimental drug attacks key parts of the defenses of the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae. It also boosts the effectiveness of the body's immune system, which helps to clear the infection rapidly.

Earlier testing has shown the vaccine to be effective as either a preventative or treatment for several types of infections that are commonly treated with antibiotics, reports.

"There are kids that have seven or eight ear infections before their first birthday, and these chronic infections can cause language and developmental delays," Novotny said, according to . "To have an option that could help break the reinfection cycle and reduce antibiotic use is significant."