A team of scientists at King’s College London has developed a method of administering life-saving vaccinations without the need for hyperdermic needles or costly refrigerated storage.
The team at the UK university has created a sucrose patch dotted with microneedles containing a specially-developed dried live vaccine. When the patch is applied to the skin the microneedles dissolve, releasing the vaccine into the bloodstream. Specialised immune cells in the skin activate the immunising properties of the vaccine, making the technique as effective as using a hyperdermic needle to inject the same dose of liquid vaccine preserved at -80 degrees Celsius.
The breakthrough could transform the way vaccines and other medical drugs are administered around the world. Vaccines are heat sensitive and become inactive if they are not kept refrigerated between 2-8 degrees Celsius, so transporting and storing them in developing countries where they are most needed presents a significant logistical challenge.
Because the dried vaccine in the microneedle patch remains stable at room temperature there is no need for continuous refrigeration, which could make the transportation and delivery of drugs to remote areas cheaper and more reliable.