Tiny Sugar-Covered Bandaid Could Replace Needles For Vaccinations

Scientists at King's College London have developed a new way to administer vaccines, using a pain-free microneedle array.

Emma Hutchings
Emma Hutchings on February 12, 2013.

Scientists at King’s College London have developed an injection-free vaccination that administers a dried live vaccine to the skin. The microneedle array is a small disc with lots of tiny needles made of sugar that dissolve when inserted into the skin, meaning less pain.

The dried microneedle vaccine was found to generate the same immune response as an injected liquid vaccine preserved at -80°c. As the dried live vaccine remains stable and effective at room temperature, it could eliminate the need for refrigeration.

Tiny Disc Could Replace Injections For Vaccinations

This would make administering vaccines much more cost-effective and easier in developing countries, addressing the global vaccine challenge for diseases such as HIV and malaria. It would also remove safety risks from needle contamination and could lead to more people taking the vaccination due to it’s pain-free administration. Dr. Linda Klavinskis from the Peter Gorer Department of Immunobiology at King’s College London, said:

We have shown that it is possible to maintain the effectiveness of a live vaccine by drying it in sugar and applying it to the skin using microneedles – a potentially painless alternative to hypodermic needles. We have also uncovered the role of specific cells in the skin which act as a surveillance system, picking up the vaccine by this delivery system and kick-starting the body’s immune processes.

King’s College London

TOPICS: Health & Wellness, Science
Emma Hutchings

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Emma Hutchings is a regular contributor to Emma is a Film Studies graduate and freelance writer based in the UK. Her favourite topics are film, tv & gaming.