Medical

Flu vaccine patch seems as effective as flu shot

Flu vaccine patch seems as effective as flu shot

The flu vaccine is now administered by an injection into the muscle of the upper arm.

Nadine Rouphael was principal investigator of the patch at Emory University School of Medicine in Georgia where she's a professor of infectious diseases.

The clinical trials began in June 2015 with 100 participants aged between 18 and 49, who hadn't received a flu shot in the past year. Höschler and Zambon were not involved in the new study. Experts hope this alternative will increase the number of people who get vaccinated each year. "One of the main goals of developing the microneedle patch technology was to make vaccines accessible to more people".

People may soon be able to get a flu vaccine without the needle.

It could also save the NHS millions because as it is self administered patients it will relieve pressure on GP surgeries, it can be transported and stored without refrigeration, and is easily disposed of after use without used needles having to be specially handled. Participants were divided into four groups, one of which received an injection whilst the others wore the microneedle patch for twenty minutes.

Also, "this patch does not need to be refrigerated - it has a long shelf life", Horovitz noted. It showed that the microneedle patch can produce antibody responses similar to regular flu shots. Also patch has some side effects such as redness, itching and tenderness in the area of the skin where the patch being applied. No new chronic medical illnesses or influenza-like illnesses were reported with either the patch or the injection groups.

Rouphael said the patch, whether it was put on the skin by a health care provider or by the participants, was as safe and effective as the intramuscular injection.




Writing in an editorial that was published alongside the new study in The Lancet, Katja Höschler and Maria Zambon, both of Public Health England, said that the "microneedle patches have the potential to become ideal candidates for vaccinations programs, not only in poorly resourced settings, but also for individuals who now prefer not to get vaccinated". This is the first time these flu microneedle patches have been tested on humans, and the study was relatively small, with only 100 participants.

The microneedle patch was designed with transdermal patches in mind, Prausnitz said.

"It's very gratifying and exciting to have these patches tested in a clinical trial, and with a result that turned out so well", says Prausnitz.

Further, larger-scale trials are now needed, said Rouphael, adding that it will still be a few years before the patches will be available for flu vaccination. Over 70 percent of the participants who received the patch said they would prefer it over an injection in future. Several of the researchers work for or have financial interests in the company that produced the vaccine patch, Micron Biomedical.

However, we need to see bigger trials to confirm that the vaccine patch works and is safe.

The researchers say their results "provide evidence that microneedle patch vaccination is an innovative new approach with the potential to improve present vaccination coverage and reduce immunisation costs". "In addition, this technology holds promise for delivering other vaccines in the future".

"This bandage-strip sized patch of dissolvable needles can transform how we get vaccinated", said Roderic Pettigrew, director of the US National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, which funded the study.


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