Covid breakthrough with painless vaccine patch. Scientists have developed a new vaccine patch using 3D printed microneedles.
The prototype patch has been created by scientists from Stanford University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Each patch contains 100 needles. The patch comes in at only one square centimetre and is made of polymer. The tiny needles barely penetrate the skin, but are extremely effective at delivering the vaccine.
Human testing of the patches has not yet been undertaken. Researchers discovered that when testing on mice the vaccine patch gave an antibody response around 20 times higher than a traditional jab, after three weeks. After a month the antibody response was shown to be 50 times higher.
The scientists said: “Using model vaccine components, we demonstrated that 3D-printed microneedle delivery resulted in enhanced cargo retention in the skin, activation of immune cells, and more potent humoral and cellular immune responses as compared with traditional vaccination routes.”
The technology used for the patch is not new, but previously it had been difficult to manufacture on a large scale. The scientists have overcome these problems using advanced 3D printing. The new technique uses continuous liquid interface production.
Shaomin Tian is a microbiologist involved in the project. She explained: “Our approach allows us to directly 3D-print the microneedles, which gives us lots of design latitude for making the best microneedles from a performance and cost point-of-view.”
The scientists believe that the new prototype could be the answer to reducing vaccine hesitancy in people who have a fear of needles.
Chemical engineer Joseph DeSimone said: “In developing this technology, we hope to set the foundation for even more rapid global development of vaccines, at lower doses, in a pain and anxiety-free manner.”
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