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Painless, dissolvable patch delivers vaccine without needle pinch

August 15, 2010

Painless, dissolvable patch delivers vaccine without needle pinch

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have developed a vaccine-delivery patch that dissolves painlessly into your skin. You don’t even need medical personnel to vaccinate someone. A single patch contains hundreds of microscopic needles — each only 650 microns long — made from a polymerized blend of vinyl pyrrolidone and freeze-dried vaccine. Pressed against the epidermis, the microneedles quickly dissolve in bodily fluids, leaving behind only a thin backing that washes away in water.

For developing countries, the patch is positive in more ways than one. Poor medical infrastructure frequently results in the reuse of hypodermic needles, a key contributor in the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis B. The dissolving microneedle patch would eliminate shared needles, while allowing vaccinations to be be performed by staff with minimal training.

The patch is expected to cost about the same as regular needle-and-syringe combos, but it could even lower the overall cost of immunization programs by reducing the need for expert personnel or waste disposal.