The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Institute of Technology announced the development of a new microneedle patch that could simplify storage, distribution, administration, and disposal compared to conventional vaccines.

The microneedle patch measures approximately one square centimeter and is designed to be administered by minimally trained workers with the press of a thumb. One hundred solid, conical microneedles that are a fraction of a millimeter in length are made of polymer, sugar, and vaccine line the underside of the patch; when the patch is applied, the microneedles press into the upper layers of the skin, dissolve within a few minutes, and release the vaccine. After that, the patch can be discarded.

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A recently completed study on the patch found that it produced a strong immune response to the measles virus in rhesus macaques with no adverse effects or health issues. Clinical trials on humans could begin as early as 2017 and the patch is expected to be manufactured at a cost comparable to the currently available needle and syringe vaccine. Other research is studying microneedle-administration of influenza, rotavirus, and tuberculosis vaccines.

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