| GEO Health|
| Needle free jab developed to beat injection phobia|
| Updated at: 1504 PST, Tuesday, July 20, 2010|
NEW YORK: Now trypanaphobics can breathe a sigh of relief as scientists have developed a skin patch to administer vaccines without the need for a jab.
Researchers say it could pave the way for ‘mail-order’ inoculations, scientists have said.
Instead of one large needle, hundreds of microscopic needles set into a patch dissolve into the skin painlessly.
The new system could allow non-medically trained people or even patients themselves to administer vaccines, particularly in the Third World.
The details were released in the journal Nature Medicine.
Studies on mice have shown that the microneedles can deliver vaccine that it as effective as conventional methods.
Researchers from Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, in America, are believed to be the first to evaluate whether vaccines delivered using these microneedle systems are as effective as ordinary ones.
Mark Prausnitz, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, said: “In this study, we have shown that a dissolving microneedle patch can vaccinate against influenza at least as well, and probably better than, a traditional hypodermic needle.
“The dissolving microneedle patch could open up many new doors for immunisation programs by eliminating the need for trained personnel to carry out the vaccination.
"This approach could make a significant impact because it could enable self-administration as well as simplify vaccination programs in schools and assisted living facilities."
Several other needleless methods have been developed to administer drugs, including gels, skin patches, tabs that dissolve under the tongue and powder jets that force medicine through the skin under pressure.
The skin is a particularly route of administration, the team from Emory University School of Medicine said, because it contains lots of cells that are needed to mount an immune response.
Richard Compans, professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory University School of Medicine, said: "The skin is a particularly attractive site for immunisation because it contains an abundance of the types of cells that are important in generating immune responses to vaccines."
The researchers used mice to test the microneedle patch, giving one group a flu vaccine with the new patch and another group the same vaccine using a traditional needle injected into muscle.
Three months later both groups were exposed to the flu virus and the mice which had been vaccinated using the patch appeared to have better protection.
Sean Sullivan, the study's lead author from Georgia Tech, said: “We envision people getting the patch in the mail or at a pharmacy and then self administering it at home.
"Because the microneedles on the patch dissolve away into the skin, there would be no dangerous sharp needles left over."
The patch costs around the same to produce as conventional needle and syringe systems but could save money in large-scale immunisation programmes due to the reduced staffing needed to administer it.