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Surprising Science

With This Vaccination System, The Needles Are Super Tiny

Scientists at King’s College London have developed a method that delivers vaccines through the skin using a dissolvable microneedle array.

What’s the Latest Development?

Scientists at Kings College London created a silicone mold of a microneedle array and then used it to make tiny disks of dried live vaccine that, when applied to the skin of mice, created an immune response that was equal to that created by the same amount of liquid vaccine injected using a needle. Unlike the liquid vaccine, which required cold storage to preserve its effectiveness, the disks of dried vaccine stayed effective at room temperature. Because the array is made of sugar, the needles dissolve upon contact with the skin.

What’s the Big Idea?

Besides the advantages of needle-free injections — painless, less risk of contamination, etc. — the ability to keep live vaccines stable in room temperature makes this delivery method highly beneficial for use in areas where refrigeration is spotty or nonexistent. The research is still in its early stages, but team member Linda Klavinskis says that the technique “represents a huge leap forward in overcoming the challenges of delivering a vaccination program for diseases such as HIV and malaria. But these findings may also have wider implications for other infectious disease vaccination programs, for example infant vaccinations, or even other inflammatory and autoimmune conditions such as diabetes.”

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Read it at KurzweilAI


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