Needle-haters rejoice and developing nations may get a better shot at scarce vaccines.

A vaccine delivered by a nanopatch works as well as one delivered with a needle and syringe, but is pain free and uses 100 times less medication, according to researchers from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

Photo by All Word News.UK

Photo by All Word News.UK

“Because the nanopatch requires neither a trained practitioner to administer it nor refrigeration, it has enormous potential to cheaply deliver vaccines in developing nations,” said lead researcher Mark Kendall, a professor at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.

Being both painless and needle-free, Kendall said in a statement released by the university, the nanopatch offers hope for those with needle phobia, as well as the potential to improve the vaccination experience for young children.

Kendall told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the nanopatch is designed to place vaccines directly into the skin where a “rich body of immune cells are,”  unlike the needle, which injects vaccines into muscles with few immune cells. As a result, the vaccines delivered via nanopatch are more effective, he said.

The nanopatch targeted cells found in a narrow layer just beneath the skin surface. The patch was “much smaller than a postage stamp and comprised of several thousands of densely packed (nanosized) projections invisible to the human eye,” the professor said.

In tests on laboratory mice, Kendall and his team dry-coated influenza vaccine onto the projections, which are nanosized delivery points, and then applied the patches to the animals’ skin for two minutes, all it took for the full dosage to be delivered.

“Our result is 10 times better than the best results achieved by other delivery methods,” being developed elsewhere around the globe, he said.  “And by using far less vaccine we believe that the Nanopatch will enable the vaccination of many more people,” Kendall said.

“When compared to a needle and syringe a nanopatch is cheap to produce and it is easy to imagine a situation in which a government might provide vaccinations for a pandemic such as swine flu to be collected from a (pharmacist) or sent in the mail,” said the announcement.

“Our next step is to prove the effectiveness of nanopatches in human clinical trials,” he said.

Here’s a link to the version I wrote for AOLnewa.com.


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