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Skin patches in progress to replace needle for vaccine jabs

Skin patches in progress to replace needle for vaccine jabs

Washington: A new mouse study on developing skin patches that could deliver vaccine shots without syringes showed promising results, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

An Australian-United States research team used patches measuring one square centimetre, dotted with more than 5,000 microscopic spikes coated with an experimental vaccine. The patch is applied on the skin with an applicator that resembles a "hockey puck", giving the subject a "good flick", David Muller, Co-author of the research paper, told AFP. The research was published in the journal Science Advances.

Muller, also a virologist at the University of Queensland, said that vaccines are injected into muscles, but it doesn't have many immune cells to react, but tiny spikes in patches cause localized skin death which alerts the body and trigger a greater immune response.

Skin patches would ease distribution efforts as they don't need cold chain requirements. It might also improve vaccine efficacy. When dry-coated on a patch, the vaccine stayed stable for 30 days at 25 degrees Celcius. At 40 Degree Celcius, the vaccine remained stable for a week. This is impressive when compared to a few hours at room temperature for Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Ultimately, the technique will help children and people who have a phobia of syringes.

Researchers used a "subunit" vaccine that reproduces the spikes that dot the surface of the coronavirus. They injected mice via the patch or the syringe over two minutes. The immune systems of those who got the patch produced high levels of neutralizing antibodies after two doses, including in their lungs, vital to stopping Covid. The patches outperformed syringes.

The Australian company Vaxxas made the farthest advancement yet, making the patches for the study. Human trials for the patches are to be started from next April.

Two other companies pursuing the studies are Micro Biomedical and Vaxess. The latter is working on a slightly different type of patch in which the microneedles dissolve in the skin. This type of patch needs considerably fewer spikes, made of a biocompatible protein polymer.

Vaxess CEO told AFP that they are working on a seasonal Covid and flu combination product that will be mailed directly to patients to their homes for self-administration. They aim to produce enough patches to vaccinate 2,000 t0 3,000 people in clinical trials yet to start next summer.

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TAGS:Vaccine Studies New research 
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