Microneedle patch developed for flu vaccination

Microneedle flu patch

The research team vaccinated the participants in non-placebo groups using an inactivated influenza vaccine that was invented for the flu season in 2014-15.

One of the groups received the traditional flu shot, while another got the microneedle vaccine patch.

But not everyone gets it. And the virus is still deadly. Health officials recommend flu vaccines to prevent such infections each year.

An easy-to-use flu vaccine patch has successfully passed early human trials, raising the prospect of an end to sometimes painful flu vaccination administered by injection.

A month after receiving the microneedle patch, 70 percent of the people stated that they would prefer getting their flu vaccine each year through this same method.

Because it does not need refrigeration, Rouphael said the patch could be bought off a store shelf or mailed to patients.

Two of the groups were vaccinated with the patch, which resembles a Band-Aid and must be applied to the skin near the wrist for 20 minutes.

Dr Nadine Rouphael, associate professor of medicine at Emory University and lead author of the study, said: "Despite the recommendation for adults and children to receive a flu shot, many people remain unvaccinated".

When the plaster is pressed into the skin, the microneedles dissolve - carrying the active ingredient of the flu vaccine into the body.

Microneedle patch developed by Emory University which could replace needles
Image The patch could be a better option for people who don't like needles

The future of flu vaccines just might come in a tiny, prickly patch. Prausnitz co-founded Micron Biomedical, a company that manufactures the microneedle patches. "The patches can also be stored outside the refrigerator, so you could even mail them to people". The people in the fourth group put the microneedle patch on themselves after watching a short, instructional video.

For the study, 100 adults aged between 18 and 49 who had previously chosen not to have the flu vaccine were recruited and randomly sorted into four groups, one of which received a traditional injection into the muscle of the arm.

You might not need a standard flu shot to be protected against the respiratory illness in the future.

It is understood that the patch is comprised of microneedles, which contain a vaccine, and ultimately allow the wearer to vaccinate themselves. "There is an audible snap that you hear when you apply enough pressure to ensure that the microneedles will actually penetrate the skin".

The researchers also found that the participants' immune systems response was just as strong in the people who received the patch as those who received the injection, Rouphael told Live Science. Most said using it was painless but some experienced mild side effects including redness, itching and tenderness in the area of skin where it had been applied.

The team caution that the study's participants were potentially less keen than the average person to have a traditional flu shot.

The researchers found that the microneedle patch was safe and led to a good immune response in the study participants, suggesting that the vaccine was working, although further study of the patch in a larger trial is needed to confirm this.

The "more exciting features" of the microneedle patch include its low cost, safety, storage convenience and durability, they said.

Related news: