Innovative alternative to flu injections in the form of a patch
A patch developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in collaboration with Emory University is deemed to be an effective alternative to needle-and-syringe immunisation. The patch contains tiny needles that painlessly deliver the flu vaccine into the skin.
This new delivery method could lead to a new way of receiving and distributing the vaccine. Correct application of the patch is so simple that participants in a study could self-administer with same efficacy as when the procedure was carried out by a health professional.
The patch also remains stable up to 40°C, meaning that it could be delivered by post to patients requiring vaccination. Once the dose is delivered over the course of 20 minutes, the patch can then be thrown away, allowing for a more convenient means of disposal.
During a Phase 1 study, with 100 participants, the alternative vaccination was found to be as effective as a vaccination delivered via injection. When queried about methods of delivery, over 70% of participants stated that they would prefer to be treated by patch administration for future vaccinations. Although researchers noted that there was a slight bias against needle vaccination in the group.
Immune response in participants was checked six months after the trial and it was found that those receiving patch administration still exhibited a strong immune response and none had developed flu during intervening period.
In terms of side effects, there were no serious adverse reactions were observed and only mild, local irritation was observed, lasting two or three days. It was also noted that 48 out of 50 participants also stated that the delivery did not hurt.
“The skin is an immune surveillance organ,” Mark Prausnitz, Regents Professor at the George Institute of Technology, who worked on the study, said. “It’s our interface with the outside world, so it’s very well equipped to detect a pathogen and mount an immune response against it.”
The next step will be to scale up participation in clinical trials to determine whether the product is capable of commercial use. Should the patch receive approval, the cost of the device would be much lower when compared to an injection vaccination. This is because although manufacturing costs are similar to flu injections, the ability to self-administer means that no healthcare professionals would need to be present.