This dissolvable patch offers radical pain free alternative to flu injection, researchers believe that the approach is likely to be welcomed by those shudder at the sight of a needle, but it could also provide other benefits. The patch is about the size of a thumbprint and contains 100 needles that are 650 micrometers (or about 0.03 inches) long.
Professor Prausnitz has been working for many years to develop the microneedle patch technology and 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".
Associate Professor Nadine Rouphael at Emory University School of Medicine said: "Despite the recommendation of universal flu vaccination, influenza continues to be a major cause of illness leading to significant morbidity and mortality".
Study findings published online in The Lancet on June 27, 2017 have found that an experimental patch of dissolving microneedles can produce robust immune responses for influenza.
You might soon be able to get a flu vaccine with the pain of a needle. It can be thrown in the bin after use because the microneedles dissolve away, thereby eliminating safety risks associated with used hypodermic needles. They provided a mostly accurate and balanced overview of the study, but only BBC News mentioned the "mild" side effects of redness, soreness and itchiness reported by people using the patch.
The study wasn't created to be big enough to see whether the patch was more effective than the injection, only to see if it was at least as effective. "The patches can also be stored outside the refrigerator, so you could even mail them to people". The vaccine also remains potent in the patch, without refrigeration, for at least a year. We found that the vaccine was stable outside the cold chain, meaning that it could be stored on a pharmacy shelf.
To apply the patch, a person places it on the back of the wrist and presses down with his or her thumb until a click is heard, Prausnitz said. This means that they can let go.
Experts from Public Health England said it might also be good to use in young children, who tend not to like needles, although the United Kingdom has already introduced a nasal spray flu vaccine for them. Then, the participants were divided into four, equal-sized groups. The vaccines were found to be effective in the patches for a minimum of one year without being refrigerated.
Among participants either administering the patches themselves or having them administered by health care workers, 33 (66%) reported tenderness, 20 (40%) reported erythema and 41 (82%) reported pruritus.
Of the participants who had the patch, 70% of them said they preferred it to other administration methods such as injection or nasal spray.
The participants were randomly assigned 1:1:1:1 to either administer the microneedle patch themselves, have a health care worker administer the patch, receive an intramuscular injection of vaccine or have a health care worker administer a placebo patch.
John McCauley, director of the Worldwide Influenza Centre at the Francis Crick Institute in London, said the research could lead to higher uptake rates of vaccines.
Thousands got the flu this season in what was one of the deadliest in almost a decade.