New Patch Could Eliminate Needles

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Vaccines can help keep you healthy, but suffering t

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ChBE professor Mark Prausnitz and his research team have developed a new, less painful method for administering vaccines.

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Vaccines can help keep you healthy, but suffering through the protective shot can be downright painful. Now, researchers may have come up with a new way of soothing the sting.

Kelly Marie Boyd doesn't do well when waiting to get a shot.

"I will start feeling faint, feeling nauseated before they even walk into the room. If I see a needle, I will pass out," she said. With a little girl on the way, she dreads having to put her baby through childhood vaccinations.

A new invention may help make things less terrifying for Kelly and others like her. The new tool could eliminate a need for needles, by using what's called a transdermal patch.

"That way you can put the drug on the skin. It sits there for a period of time and the drug makes its way across the skin," said Dr. Mark Prausnitz of Georgia Institute of Technology.

The "microneedles" work just like a nicotine patch, but use - you guessed it - microscopic needles. "So small that on the one hand, you don't feel them. Probably you don't even see them," Prausnitz said.

On the other hand, they're large enough to do what's needed. "The channels that they have are big enough to deliver most any drug or even vaccine that you would like to give," Prausnitz said.

Not only is it less painful, this may also be a more effective way of delivering drugs.

"There is a class of immune cells that live in the very top layer of skin. So, if you can give the vaccine right there at the top layer of skin, you can get a better immune response," Prausnitz said.

With a better response, smaller doses of the drug may be given than what is traditionally needed. You may even be able to use them right at home.

"You just stick it on and you're done," Dr. Prausnitz said.

Researchers hope these microneedles will have a big impact in third-world countries, where there's a huge need for a better way to vaccinate large groups against deadly diseases such as hepatitis B and smallpox.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

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Research
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Keywords
chbe, chemical engineering, Mark Prausnitz, Research
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  • Created By: Josie Giles
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jul 13, 2006 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:06pm