Vaccines have traditionally been administered via an injection or by mouth. There is no denying the fact that most people do not like vaccine injections and it seems that they may no longer need them.
A recent study in the Lancet reveals that a flu patch may not be so unrealistic after all. A Phase 1 clinical trial reveals that a dissolvable flu patch was not only well-tolerated, it was also found to be safe.
The small flu patch is equipped with tiny 100 microneedles that deploy the vaccine when the patch is pressed onto the arm. The patch is very small and so are the needles thus ensuring that the patient does not feel any pain.
The question is: does the flu patch boost the immune system? Well, so far the results indicate that it does. During the study, it was found that just one application of the patch caused a boost in the immune cells. The patch contains the same type of vaccine administered by the traditional needle but it is inserted within tiny needles in the patch instead of one large syringe and a needle.
The patch is applied like a band-aid on the wrist area. When placed properly there is an audible snap when firm pressure is applied. This communicates that the microneedles have penetrated the skin. The patch is removed within a few minutes once the microneedles have dissolved within the skin.
In the clinical trial, adult volunteers were vaccinated using this patch and compared to individuals who received the vaccine the traditional way. Findings showed that the majority of individuals who received the microneedle patch had no pain and at follow up almost 70% of individuals said they preferred the patch compared to the injection. However, the reactions (headache, fatigue) to the vaccine either via the patch or the traditional needle shot were similar. Plus, the patch users also found that itching persisted for 2-3 days. The most important thing is that the immune response between the patch and the traditional flu injection were similar.
Based on the success of this microneedle patch, more studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of vaccination and safety. However, the technology to make these microneedle patches is not only complicated but also quite expensive.
The biggest advantage with the patch is that it can be administered by the consumer which saves the cost of a syringe and needle as well as eliminates the need of a healthcare professional to administer it.