Needle-wielding strangers jabbing you in the arm may be a thing of the past, at least when it comes to flu season.
For the last few years, researchers at Georgia State University have been developing a microneedle patch that dissolves into the skin as a simple way for patients to painlessly self-administer vaccines. As the group reports in the current issue of the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, they’ve developed a flu vaccine for the patch. When tested on mice, it proved to be 100 percent effective more than a year after the mice where vaccinated.
Rather than a liquid, the flu vaccine uses dry virus-like particles (VLP) that coat the microneedle patch along with an agent that makes it unnecessary for the patches to be refrigerated.
The microneedles are just seven-tenths of millimeter in length — small enough to do away with the pain of being stuck with a hypodermic needle. Better yet, the tiny needles offer such a precise delivery that each dose requires a smaller amount of the vaccine, therefore reducing side effects.
Researcher envision the day when patients can self-administer the vaccine, but no word on how soon that will be. For those with a phobia of needles, that day can’t come soon enough.
Credit: Jeong-Woo Lee