FEB 06, 2017 6:43 AM PST

Will this microneedle patch help wipe out measles?

Image Credit: Gary Meek

A new microneedle patch administered with the press of a thumb could make it easier to vaccinate people against measles and other diseases.

The patch measures about a square centimeter. The underside is lined with 100 solid, conical microneedles made of polymer, sugar, and vaccine. The needles are a fraction of a millimeter long.

When the patch is applied, the microneedles press into the upper layers of the skin, then dissolve within a few minutes, releasing the vaccine. The patch can then be discarded.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are developing and testing the patch. A recent study shows the patch produces a strong immune response in an animal model, with no adverse effects or health issues. The findings clear the way for developing proposals for human clinical trials, which could begin as early as 2017.

“Each day, 400 children are killed by measles complications worldwide,” says James Goodson, an epidemiologist from the CDC’s Global Immunization Division. “With no needles, syringes, sterile water, or sharps disposals needed, the microneedle patch offers great hope of a new tool to reach the world’s children faster, even in the most remote areas.

“This advancement would be a major boost in our efforts to eliminate this disease, with more vaccines administered and more lives saved at less cost.”

20 million people each year

The patch would make getting the measles vaccine to remote areas easier because it is more stable at varying temperatures than the currently available vaccines and takes up less space. Because microneedles dissolve in the skin, there is no disposal of needles, reducing the risk of accidental needlesticks. The measles patch is expected be manufactured at a cost comparable to the currently available needle and syringe vaccine.

The 100 microneedle patches (white) in the foreground could replace everything in the background: the 100 needles and syringes, 10 ten-dose vials of measles vaccine with diluent, a biohazards box for sharps waste disposal, and a refrigerator for cold chain storage. (Credit: Gary Meek)

Twenty million people are affected by measles each year. Unfortunately, global coverage with the measles vaccine has been stagnant for the last few years at around 85 percent, which is well below the coverage of up to 95 percent needed to interrupt transmission of the disease.

Because measles is vaccine-preventable and the measles virus survives only in human hosts, the world’s health officials are aiming for measles elimination. Having a simple patch administered by minimally trained vaccinators could help increase vaccination coverage and achieve that goal, researchers say.

Researchers say microneedle technology might lead to improved protection against other diseases, including polio, influenza, rotavirus, rubella, and tuberculosis.

Source: Georgia Tech

This article was originally published on Futurity.org.

About the Author
  • Futurity features the latest discoveries by scientists at top research universities in the US, UK, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The nonprofit site, which launched in 2009, is supported solely by its university partners (listed below) in an effort to share research news directly with the public.
You May Also Like
JUL 29, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Will We Have a COVID-19 Vaccine by Year-End?
JUL 29, 2020
Will We Have a COVID-19 Vaccine by Year-End?
This week, pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer launched giant Phase III 30,000-subject trials for their COVID-19 ...
AUG 11, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Scientists Discover Key Gene Behind Antibiotic Resistance
AUG 11, 2020
Scientists Discover Key Gene Behind Antibiotic Resistance
Scientists from Oxford University have shown that a single gene can make some strains of Staphylococcus aureus (the bact ...
SEP 06, 2020
Microbiology
Small Changes in Vaccine Molecules Could Make Them More Effective
SEP 06, 2020
Small Changes in Vaccine Molecules Could Make Them More Effective
Effective vaccines have to trigger an immune response, which is intended to create an immune 'memory' of a specific infe ...
SEP 21, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
The Hormones We Have at Birth Are Linked to Disease Throughout Life
SEP 21, 2020
The Hormones We Have at Birth Are Linked to Disease Throughout Life
New work may help explain why some autoimmune or immune-related diseases are more common in women, who are more likely t ...
OCT 02, 2020
Immunology
Stop the Clot: A New Antibody Treatment for Thrombosis
OCT 02, 2020
Stop the Clot: A New Antibody Treatment for Thrombosis
Blood clotting helps stem the bleeding from a wound, suppressing blood loss and stopping pathogenic microorganisms from ...
NOV 19, 2020
Immunology
Parasitic Worms Help Unravel the Immune Mechanisms Underlying Chronic Disease
NOV 19, 2020
Parasitic Worms Help Unravel the Immune Mechanisms Underlying Chronic Disease
Parasitic worms known as helminths have a complicated relationship with the immune systems of the hosts they invade. Ter ...
Loading Comments...