Researchers at King’s College London have developed an injection-free technique that can deliver dried live vaccines into the skin without the need for a traditional hypodermic needle.
The vaccine is administered through small rows of microneedles made of sucrose which penetrate the skin and dissolve quickly — enabling specialized immune cells in the skin to kick-start potent immunizing properties of the vaccine.
This important technical advancement stabilizes a live viral vaccine at room temperature rather than requiring refrigeration — which can be a considerable challenge in developing countries where transporting and storing live vaccines in a continuously cold environment would not be possible.
An injection-free vaccine also offers a cheaper alternative to hypodermic needles and removes any safety risks from needle contamination along with the added benefit of pain-free administration.
Dr Linda Klavinskis from the Peter Gorer Department of Immunobiology at King’s College London, is excited by the possibility of delivering live vaccines in a global context, without the need for any refrigeration.
“This new technique represents a huge leap forward in overcoming the challenges of delivering a vaccination program for diseases such as HIV and malaria,” Dr Klavinskis said in a news release.
“But these findings may also have wider implications for other infectious disease vaccination programs, for example infant vaccinations, or even other inflammatory and autoimmune conditions such as diabetes.”
The study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by King’s College London, is part of a larger project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.