FROM: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION
Microneedle Patch for Measles Vaccination Could Be a Game Changer
Promises to Increase Reach of Immunization Coverage Globally
A new microneedle patch being developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could make it easier to vaccinate people against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
The microneedle patch is designed to be administered by minimally trained workers and to simplify storage, distribution, and disposal compared with conventional vaccines.
The microneedle patch under development measures about a square centimeter and is administered with the press of a thumb. The underside of the patch is lined with 100 solid, conical microneedles made of polymer, sugar, and vaccine that are a fraction of a millimeter long. When the patch is applied, the microneedles press into the upper layers of the skin; they dissolve within a few minutes, releasing the vaccine. The patch can then be discarded.
“Each day, 400 children are killed by measles complications worldwide. 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,” said James Goodson, Ph.D., epidemiologist from the CDC’s Global Immunization Division. “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.
Getting the measles vaccine to remote areas is expected to be easier because the patch is more stable at varying temperatures than the currently available vaccines and takes up less space than the standard vaccine. Because microneedles dissolve in the skin, there is no disposal of needles, reducing the risk of accidental needlesticks. The measles patch is expected be manufactured at a cost comparable to the currently available needle and syringe vaccine.
Twenty million people are affected by measles each year. Unfortunately, global coverage with the measles vaccine has been stagnant for the last few years at around 85 percent, which is well below the coverage of up to 95 percent needed to interrupt transmission of the disease.
Because measles is vaccine-preventable and the measles virus survives only in human hosts, the world’s health officials are aiming for measles elimination. Having a simple patch administered by minimally trained vaccinators could help increase vaccination coverage and achieve the goal of measles elimination.