Skip the flu shots with a skin patch

Painless patch could replace flu jab study

A microneedle patch could one day come to replace the traditional flu shot.

It is expected that the prospective (vaccine) technology may offer economic and manufacturing benefits.

Regarding its efficacy, it could induce the same immune response to the regular flu shot, according to Dr. Rouphael. Once the mixture dried, they removed it from the molds and applied the resulting patches to the skin of lab mice. Encapsulated within those microneedles is the vaccine, which is then released into the skin after a few minutes. It involved 100 volunteers and were randomly sorted into four groups. More than 70 percent of patch recipients reported they would prefer patch vaccination over injection or intranasal vaccination for future vaccinations. The results showed that people who had the patch found it less painful. "They were impressed by how tiny it was, how easy it was to administer".

The researchers claim that the patch seems safe and effective till now. Minor side effects included minor localized redness and minor itching, which lasted for a couple of days. It is simple for people to stick on themselves and may help the people to get immunized, including those who are afraid of injections, said experts to Lancet Journal. A snap system was incorporated into the device to let users know when enough pressure had been applied to the patch.

Because it does not need refrigeration, Rouphael said the patch could be bought off a store shelf or mailed to patients. "The flu being the most straightforward example".

Scientists in the USA have developed a patch with microneedles containing a vaccine which would allow patients to immunise themselves. Once on the skin, the vaccine can enter the body, preparing the body to fight off the flu virus. "It's kind of like a band-aid nearly", Daisy Bourassa, a college instructor and one of the volunteers in the testing of the patches, said.

This image shows a health care worker administering a microneedle array containing influenza vaccine.

Similar microneedle patches are also being developed for vaccines against polio and rubella. The pharmaceutical company behind the product, AstraZeneca, said it is working to be able to change that recommendation during the flu season so that the nasal spray is available for consumers who want it.

The latest flu vaccine figures, based on uptake by people over 65 with a medical card, is 55 per cent - the World Health Organisation has a global target of 75 per cent.

Experts from Public Health England said it might also be good to use in young children, who tend not to like needles, although the United Kingdom has already introduced a nasal spray flu vaccine for them.

In a separate test, researchers found the vaccine patches could be stored for a year at temperatures ranging from 5C to 40C without the vaccine losing its potency.

"This particular patch is very stable at room temperature".

Mark Prausnitz, a study coauthor and chemical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, says having the patch on feels "a little like Velcro being pressed against the skin". The microneedle patches, however, contained a slightly smaller dose of antigens, regardless of whether the patches were administered by a health professional or a volunteer.

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