Flu patches may replace jabs to allow patients to self administer

Patches covered in tiny needles could replace current methods for delivering flu vaccines, and allow self-delivery of flu jabs, US scientists believe.

Microneedle patches were used to deliver a single flu vaccine dose (Photograph: Georgia Tech)
Dr Ioanna Skountzou and colleagues from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, found that microneedle administration in mice elicited better immune reactions than conve­ntional techniques.

Immune cells in the skin have been thought to offer a more promising target for vaccine administration than shoulder muscles.

Dr Skountzou and her team therefore looked at the eff­ect of using a microneedle patch to deliver a single dose of a licensed flu vaccine to mice.

They found that the patch provided better protection against flu than conventional intramuscular delivery and that this protection lasted longer.

Commenting on their findings, the researchers said microneedles ‘have the pot­ential to make skin-based vaccination a clinically viable alternative’.

‘Besides the immunologic advantages demonstrated in this study, [use of microneedles] offers several logistical advantages, including inexpensive manufacturing and small size for easy storage and distribution,’ they said.

Dr Skountzou and her co-workers also point out that microneedle arrays benefit from ‘a simple administration process that might enable self-vaccination to increase patient coverage, and overall better acceptance of this route of vaccination by the general public’.

They concluded: ‘Micro­needle-based delivery has the potential to be used with currently approved vaccines and formulations, and for improving results when compared with the current conventional routes, especially to generate long-lived protective immunity.’

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