- 3D-printed vaccine patch offers better protection than a normal vaccine shot
- Testing in mice showed it offered a 10-fold greater immune response than needles
- It is painless, less invasive than a shot with a needle and can be self-administered.
Scientists have developed a tiny 3D-printed microneedle vaccine patch that could offer a pain-free alternative to needles.
In tests on mice, it offered a 10-fold greater immune response than a handheld needle and a 50-fold greater T-cell and antigen-specific antibody response.
The polymer patch, which is smaller than a 5p coin, requires a lower dosage and can be mailed to people’s homes and self-administered, eliminating the need for trained medical personnel.
It also offers a ‘worry-free’ vaccination option for people who have ‘needle phobia’, also known as trypanophobia, which is preventing some from getting their COVID jabs.
Researchers have not yet clinically tested the patch on humans, which could pave the way for a new way of administering vaccines in the future.
Researchers at Carolina and Stanford Universities have developed a microneedle vaccine patch that outperforms a needle jab at boosting immunity. Researchers claim it doesn’t even need to reach as deep as a needle
How does the vaccine patch work?
The polymer microneedle vaccine patches are printed using a CLIP prototype 3D printer.
Microneedles are coated with vaccine liquids like Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.
Upon entering the dermis layer of the skin, the vaccine fluid dissolves.
An inoculation needle goes beyond the folds of the skin, as deep as the muscle.
The microneedle doesn’t go that deep – only the dermis layer of the skin – but this layer is rich in immune cells.
The new vaccine patch is developed by researchers at Stanford University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Lead study author Joseph M. Desimon, Professor of Chemical Engineering, said: “In developing this technology, we hope to set the foundation for even more rapid global development of vaccines in a low-dose, pain- and worry-free manner.” ” at Stanford University.
The microneedle patches were 3D printed using a CLIP prototype 3D printer, which was invented by DeSimone and manufactured by CARBON, a Silicon Valley company co-founded by Professor DeSimone.
3D-printing uses software to create a three-dimensional design before it is printed by robotic equipment.
At the end of the automated robotic arms is a nozzle that emits the printing substance – in this case the polymer – layer by layer.
Thanks to the flexibility of 3D printing, microneedles can be easily adapted to develop various vaccine patches for flu, measles, hepatitis or COVID-19 vaccines.
While vaccines are typically administered as injections under the skin, there is growing interest in what are known as intradermal injections – more shallow injections that only reach the dermis, which is located between the epidermis and hypodermis. it happens.
Beyond the hypodermis is the fat and muscle that a conventional inoculation needle usually penetrates.
The researchers say that intradermal injections are suitable for vaccination because human skin is rich in immune cells (Langerhans cells and dermal dendritic cells).
In tests with animals, the patch elicited an immune response that was 10 times greater than that of the vaccine given with a needle jab into the arm muscles.
Needle phobia may be the reason for 10% of UK’s COVID vaccine getting
Recent research suggests needle phobia may be the cause of 10 per cent of COVID vaccine hesitations in the UK.
Researchers from the University of Oxford asked 15,014 UK adults to rate their concerns about needles and blood and their desire to receive a COVID vaccine.
Overall, 3,927 (26.2 percent) tested positive for a blood-injection-injury phobia.
Individuals screened positive (22.0 percent) were more likely to report COVID vaccine hesitation than those screened negative (11.5 percent).
The risk of blood-injection-injury could explain about 10 percent of cases of Covid vaccine hesitation, the researchers said.
“If we can wave the magic wand and relieve people from their injection anxiety, more than 10 percent of vaccine hesitations could disappear,” said study author Danielle Freeman. Conversation.
Other reasons for not having a jab include doubts about the safety of vaccines and the severity of COVID-19.
According to the researchers, the current coronavirus pandemic is a stark reminder of the difference made with timely vaccination – but getting the vaccine usually requires a trip to a clinic, hospital or vaccine center.
There, a healthcare provider receives a vaccine from a refrigerator, fills a syringe with a liquid vaccine formulation and injects it into the arm.
While the process sounds simple, there are issues that can hinder mass vaccination – from the cold storage of vaccines to the need for trained professionals who can deliver the shots.
Vaccine patches, on the other hand, can be shipped anywhere in the world without special handling, allowing people to apply the patch themselves, as is the at-home COVID test.
The patch’s microneedles will be coated in the vaccine fluid, which will be painlessly applied to the skin.
Microneedles can be fabricated using 3D-printing from a variety of materials – for example, solid metals and silicon, as well as polymers.
In general, adapting microneedles to different vaccines is a challenge, said lead study author Shaomin Tian, a researcher in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UNC School of Medicine.
“These issues, as well as manufacturing challenges, have arguably overtaken the microneedles sector for vaccine delivery,” he said.
Most microneedle vaccines are produced with a master template for mold making.