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Self-Administration of Flu Vaccine With Patch May be Feasible, Study Suggests

Test subjects prefer patches over injections (February 26)

According to an article in Vaccine, test subjects recruited in the metropolitan Atlanta area could successfully apply a prototype vaccine patch to themselves, suggesting that the self-administration of vaccines with microneedle patches may one day be feasible.

The study also suggested that the use of vaccine patches might increase the rate at which the population is vaccinated against influenza. After comparing simulated vaccine administration using a patch and conventional injection, the percentage of test subjects who said they’d be vaccinated increased from 46% to 65%.

The study is believed to be the first published report of a head-to-head comparison between microneedle patches and traditional intramuscular injection for the administration of vaccines in human subjects. Neither the patches nor the hypodermic needles carried a vaccine, and the study did not assess the efficacy of using microneedle patches for vaccinations in human subjects.

The patches consisted of arrays of 50 microscopic needles approximately as tall as the thickness of a few hairs. When used for vaccination, the patches would be pressed painlessly onto a person’s forearm to carry vaccine into the outer layers of skin, where it would prompt an immune reaction from the body.

The researchers evaluated how well the volunteers were able to self-administer the microneedle patches. After the subjects pressed the patches into their skin, the researchers applied a dye to highlight the tiny holes made by the microneedles. By photographing the administration sites and counting the number of holes, they were able to assess the accuracy of the application.

The study participants were asked to assess the pain associated with administering the patch and with receiving an intramuscular injection. On a scale of 1 to 100, they rated the patches 1.5 on average, while the injection was rated 15.

If all goes well, the vaccine patch could be available within 5 years, the researchers say.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology; February 26, 2014.

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