According to The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are currently developing a microneedle patch capable of providing a safer, simpler alternative to standard measles shots.
The patches, comparable to a sticker, are approximately one square centimeter in size and feature 100 conical microneedles made of polymer, sugar, and the vaccine on their undersides.
When applied to the skin, the microneedles, which are merely a fraction of a millimeter long dissolve within minutes, allowing the patch to then be thrown away.
The best part about vaccinations delivered through microneedle patches is that the patches can be administered by “minimally trained workers,” according to the CDC.
Essentially, what this means is sanitation issues can effectively be eliminated since hypodermic needles are not being used, in addition to the patches being more durable overall and easier to travel with. Developing countries and places without top-notch medical access stand to benefit the most from microneedle patch technology.
“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,” James Goodson, epidemiologist from the CDC’s Global Immunization Division, said in a statement. “This advancement would be a major boost in our efforts to eliminate this disease, with more vaccines administered and more lives saved at less cost.”
At the moment, measles is a leading cause of death in young children globally, so researchers are hoping to begin human clinical trials of the microneedle patch vaccinations as early as 2017.