Currently in development is a new needle-free vaccine for Measles which aims to eliminate unnecessary disadvantages of needle vaccinations like needle disposal, administration by trained nurses, distribution through temperature-controlled transportation and storage.
The microneedle patch is being developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It measures about a square centimeter and is administered by pressing it to the skin with the thumb. The vaccine is administered by microneedles that are a fraction of a millimeter long and dissolves into the layers of the skin within minutes. The patch can then be removed and easily disposed of in the trash.
“With no needles, syringes, sterile water or sharps disposals needed, the microneedle patch offers great hope of a new tool to reach the world's children faster, even in the most remote areas,” said Dr. James Goodson, epidemiologist from the CDC’s Global Immunization Division.
The patch will be easier to distribute to remote areas as it is more stable at varying temperatures than currently available vaccines. There will be no need for needle disposal and accidental needlesticks will be avoided entirely. As the patch is easier to administer than syringes, highly trained medical workers will no longer be a must as well. Scientists are estimating it will cost the same as current vaccines.
The researchers have already successfully showed in a study, published in the journal Vaccine, using animal models that the microneedle patch produced a strong immune response with no adverse effects. They are currently working on proposals for human clinical trials.
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Sources: April 28, 2015. "New Measles Vaccine is Needle-Free". nbcnews.com April 28, 2015. "Microneedle patch for measles vaccination could be a global game changer". sciencedaily.com