Needle-phobes, Fear Not--the Nanopatch is Here

The reality of a needle-free vaccine delivery system is even closer to being realized.

Thanks to a consortium of investors agreeing to give $15 million to its development, the reality of a needle-free vaccine delivery system is even closer to being realized. This delivery system, or nanopatch, is set to replace the hypodermic needle in the future due to a plethora of positive uses.

This nanopatch contains thousands of small projections which deliver vaccines to an abundance of immune cells in the skin, doing away with the need for needles to be plunged into muscles where there are few immune cells. It is also expected to reduce needle stick injuries and cross contamination. In early stage testing in animals, the nanopatch has also shown efficacy in the form of a flu vaccine; in fact, that patch is effective with only 1/150th of the dose compared to a syringe.

Yet perhaps the most exciting feature about the nanopatch is that is does not need refrigeration like traditional vaccines. This ensures that the new delivery system will cut costs and make transportation significantly easier.

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Professor Mark Kendall, who has been working on the development of these nanopatches, stated that, “In Africa, about half of vaccines aren't working properly because of a breakdown in the cold chain.” He then went on to say the nanopatch “also offers a way to stop needle-stick injuries during vaccination which again is a particularly important problem in Africa; with a third of vaccines affected by other complications brought about through cross contamination needle stick injury."

More tests and clinical trials are still needed before the nanopatch is proven fully effective but they could hit the market within the next five years.

Around the Web

Nanopatch to eradicate fear of needles [The Australian]

In Fast-Tracked Trial, Nanopatch Flu Vaccine Found Effective [Popular Science]

Self-Administered Vaccines On The Way [Pharmacy News]