FEB 06, 2017 06:43 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
JUN 12, 2018
Immunology
JUN 12, 2018
Auto-antibody Detection for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
No case of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease, is the same. Now, researchers want RA diagnostic approaches to match its pathological diversit...
JUN 14, 2018
Health & Medicine
JUN 14, 2018
Beware of Hotel Room Germs
Recently the CDC came out with a study that showed nearly 1/3 of swimming-related illnesses from 2000-2014 could be traced back to pathogens found in hotel...
JUN 22, 2018
Health & Medicine
JUN 22, 2018
A New Test for Peanut Allergy: Better, Faster, Cheaper.
Scientists from the Medical Research Council (MRC) in the UK have come up with a test to detect peanut allergies and it’s safer, quicker and more acc...
AUG 04, 2018
Microbiology
AUG 04, 2018
The Viral Link to Irritable Bowel Disease
We now know of the importance of the microbiome, but most of the research focus has been on bacteria....
AUG 21, 2018
Immunology
AUG 21, 2018
T cells Trapped by Brain Cancer
Brain tumors prevent T cells from escaping the bone marrow by altering levels of the S1P1 protein....
SEP 04, 2018
Immunology
SEP 04, 2018
Development of Damaging Immune Cells in Tuberculosis Infection
Development of damaging white blood cells occurs during Tuberculosis infection leading to a maladaptive immune response....
Loading Comments...