The wishes of screaming children are seemingly being answered as Georgia Tech and Emory University continue their research in an attempt at developing the world’s first ‘microneedle’ vaccination, which hails itself as a pain-free alternative to the tried and true single shot vaccine that has shown itself to be a popular, albeit painful method of administering immunizations.
It seems alien in design, yet makes remarkable sense; applied like a Band-Aid, the patch contains a series of microscopic ‘needles’ which deliver a diluted form of the disease in question to aid the body in developing immunity. The needles themselves correspond to the thickness of the epidermis where they will then be placed— standard length is roughly .65 millimeters long, many times shorter than the typical depth of insertion common with more conventional methods of vaccinations.
What makes this patch so remarkable, however, is the method of delivery. The hundreds of minuscule needles are filled with the frozen solution, and the needles themselves dissolve just seconds after the patch is applied. After they dissolve, the solution enters the skin and starts the immunization process.
As a result of their extensive testing, developers are calling it a virtually painless vaccination experience, which will no doubt appeal to those with a lower pain tolerance and a dreadful fear of needles. While the patches have yet to go through a human clinical trial, researchers like Sean Sullivan of Georgia Tech hope that this new technology could prompt a revolution in the way vaccines are administered, even going so far as stating that “[researchers] envision people getting the patch in the mail or at a pharmacy and then self-administering it at home.”
Tests being performed on mice seem to show that the method of delivery is in fact efficient, and although the patch may not be available for some time, it shows promise in becoming the administration of choice that will replace the now-seemingly barbaric form of hypodermic vaccination that has been so widely used around the globe.