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Microneedle Patch to Deliver Influenza Vaccine – A Peek into the Future?
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Microneedle Patch to Deliver Influenza Vaccine – A Peek into the Future?

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Highlights:
  • The influenza vaccine has to be taken annually by individuals of all age groups
  • The inconveniences associated with taking the injectable vaccine could be one of the reasons for neglecting vaccination
  • A microneedle patch that delivers the vaccine could revolutionize the administration of the influenza vaccine, as well as of other vaccines

A Band-Aid like patch could soon replace an injection for the administration of the flu vaccine. The positive results of the initial testing of the new vaccine delivery system were published in The Lancet.

Influenza is a common respiratory tract infection that can turn serious, and even fatal. Flu vaccines are recommended to prevent influenza. It is necessary to take the vaccine every year since the level of immunity reduces with time and the genetic constitution of the virus changes every season. Therefore, the vaccine administered in the previous year may be ineffective in the next season.

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Reports indicate that a substantial number of individuals do not take the flu vaccine. Deterrents could be the discomfort of an injection and the inconvenience and expense of visiting a flu clinic. Thus, efforts are being made to produce simpler methods of administration of the vaccine.

One such method being evaluated is the use of a Band-Aid like patch to deliver the vaccine. On its inner side, the patch has microscopic needles. When the patch is pressed on the skin, the needles enter the skin and dissolve, releasing the vaccine into the body. The patch does not require refrigeration and can be safely disposed after use since it does not retain any of the needles.
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The vaccine was tried out in a small clinical trial that included 100 adults between the ages of 18 and 49 years, divided into four groups. While one group received the injectable form of the vaccine, the other three received the microneedle patches. Among these, one group administered the patch on their own, the second were administered the patch by their health care providers, while the third group received a placebo in the form of patch applied by a health care provider.

Following were some of the conclusions of the study:
  • The vaccine was safe and well-tolerated. Mild skin reactions, if at all, usually subsided in two to three days
  • The participants of the study developed good immunity against influenza, which was similar to that obtained with an intramuscular injection
  • The participants could administer the vaccine on their own, thereby reducing a visit to a physician. The effectiveness of the vaccine was similar irrespective of whether it was administered by the health care provider or the participant
  • The participants preferred this form of vaccination as compared to injections or intranasal delivery of vaccination, which has also been used for the influenza vaccination
  • The effectiveness of the vaccine was maintained even if it was not refrigerated for a year
It is hoped that this novel approach of administering the flu vaccine, if successful in additional clinical studies, could encourage more individuals to opt for the vaccine.

An even more interesting implication of this study is the use of such patches for the delivery of vaccines in children. Vaccination is an unpleasant event for most children, while the application of a Band-Aid is much more fascinating. The good news is that efforts are on to develop such a vaccine delivery system for measles, rubella or German measles, and polio as well.

References :
  1. Rouphael NG et al. The safety, immunogenicity, and acceptability of inactivated influenza vaccine delivered by microneedle patch (TIV-MNP 2015): a randomised, partly blinded, placebo-controlled, phase 1 trial. The Lancet DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30575-5
  2. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine - (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm)
Source: Medindia

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