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Needleless vaccine patches could soon replace syringes;  This is how they trigger an increased immune response

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Needleless vaccine patches could soon replace syringes; This is how they trigger an increased immune response

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Doctors and researchers have been working tirelessly for quite some time to develop needleless vaccination methods. Vaccine skin patches have become one of the most promising alternatives to syringes. Vaccine patches have been suggested to offer better efficacy and lower logistical requirements.

A new study published in the scientific journal Science Advances has shown several benefits of these patches.

The Australian-American team used one-square-centimeter patches dotted with more than 5,000 microscopic peaks, “so small you can’t really see them,” said David Muller, a virologist at the University of Queensland and a co-author of the paper. he told AFP.

Coated with an experimental vaccine, the vaccine produces the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to elicit an immune response in the body, though only in mice for now.

The researchers found that compared to mice that received two syringe doses of the vaccine, those that were immunized with the patches performed better. Higher levels of COVID-19 antibodies were seen in mice immunized with the patches, especially around lung tissue where the SARS-CoV-2 virus is believed to strike first.

The researchers also tested the mice with an adjuvant, any ingredient that elicits a better immune response and helps a particular vaccine work better. Mice that only received a single dose of the vaccine and an adjuvant were found not to get sick at all.

The effectiveness of patches is directly related to our biology. Intramuscular vaccines, as their name suggests, deposit the vaccine material within our muscle tissues. But muscle tissues have a very low concentration of immune cells responsible for activating the body’s immunogenic response.

The patches, with their microscopic spikes, do not penetrate as deeply into muscle tissue, but instead deposit the vaccine material just below all layers of the dermis, the multiple layers of tissue that make up the skin. Here, immune cells are in higher density by being close to areas where the skin could tear and potential pathogens enter the body. Closer proximity, theoretically, allows for a greater immune response. Additionally, microscopic spikes cause local trauma and can cause skin cells in the area to die, leading to an increased immune response from the body.

These patches do not necessarily need highly trained medical professionals to administer them.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of these vaccine patches are their logistical advantages. Vaccine patches can be transported much more easily than vaccine vials and syringes and are also easier to administer as they do not require trained personnel. A dry coated patch can be stable at 25 ° C for 30 days and at 40 ° C for one week.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines can stay at room temperature for just a couple of hours before being denatured, and most other vaccines require temperatures below 10 ° C to remain stable for longer periods of time as well.

The patches from the study, conducted by Australian company Vaxxas, will begin human trials in April. Micron Biomedical and Vaxess, two US-based companies, are also in the race to develop effective vaccine patches for next year. The industry segment had languished without public attention, but the pandemic has propelled both investors and public authorities into a new revolution in medicine.

(Edited by : Thomas Abraham)

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Needleless vaccine patches could soon replace syringes; This is how they trigger an increased immune response

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