Goodbye Needles, Hello Painless Patch Vaccine

A dissolvable microneedle patch provides just as much protection against the flu as typical needle delivered vaccines, according to researchers from Osaka University.

A dissolvable microneedle patch provides just as much protection against the flu as typical needle delivered vaccines, according to researchers from Osaka University.

The MicroHyala patch consists of tiny needles made of a substance that naturally cushions joints, hyaluronic acid. It is dissolvable in water and painlessly sticks the top layer of skin to administer the flu vaccine. The team compared the efficiency of the method against the traditional needle strategy for delivery.

“We were excited to see that our new microneedle patch is just as effective as the needle-delivered flu vaccines, and in some cases even more effective,”one of the authors Shinsaku Nakagawa, a professor at the university, said in a news release.

A total of 39 healthy males, ages 20 to 49, were randomly separated into 2 groups. Each were protected against 3 strains of the flu including A/H1N1, A/H3N2, and B. The first group received the patch (transcutaneous immunization) consisting of 15 µg of the influenza HA antigen. The application was placed on the upper left arm for 6 hours. The second group had injections (subcutaneous immunization) of 0.5 mL of >15 µg of the influenza antigens. Both groups received the vaccination twice, with the second being 3 weeks after the initial dose.

The findings revealed that the patch produced immune responses with only 50% of the dose that the injections required. Furthermore, the study in Biomaterials explained that the patch was superior against the influenza B virus when compared to the injection.

“Our novel transcutaneous vaccination using a dissolving microneedle patch is the only application vaccination system that is readily adaptable for widespread practical use,” Nakagawa confirmed.

No severe adverse effects were witnessed in those who received the patch, however, purpura was observed in more than half. The appearance completely faded by the third week. The researchers foresee the patch being used worldwide due to the painless usage and eliminated the need for health care professionals.

“Because the new patch is so easy to use, we believe it will be particularly effective in supporting vaccination in developing countries,” Nakagawa concluded.