Nanopatches for Improved Vaccines – Summary
He was concerned that the existing vaccines, in the form of needles and syringes, weren’t adequate. Kendall and his multidisciplinary team, based at the Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in the University of Queensland, designed a Nanopatch which is essentially a postage stamp sized wafer of silicone with projections on the one side covered with dry vaccine. The projections, when applied to the skin, penetrate the outer layer containing the body’s immune cells.
Within the watery environment of the cells, the projections release the vaccine within minutes, at which time the patch can be removed. The Influenza vaccine was applied to the nanopatch, which was then tested on mice. This method of vaccine delivery was equally as successful in achieving immunisation as alternative methods (i. e. needle and syringe) and only required a hundredth of the usual dose. Other vaccines, including the human papilloma virus (responsible for causing cervical cancer), have also proven to be successfully transferred via the nanopatch.
It is anticipated that vaccination costs will be significantly reduced with use of the nanopatch. Manufacture of the patch is relatively inexpensive with lower dosage required per vaccine, and no refridgeration required due to it being a dry vaccine. Refridgeration is the biggest cost involved in the use of current liquid vaccines. Due to the simplicity of the patch, staff will not require extensive training in its application. Another benefit is that needle stick injuries will be eliminated. Pain and fear, associated with injections, will also be removed.
Production of the nanopatch in large quantity was always intended, so it could be available for widespread use. As vaccination in developing countries is a major focus of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they have provided funding for this project. 15 million has also been invested, by a private organisation, to Vaxxas – a company which has been established to market the nanopatch. The nanopatch is to undergo further development and clinical trials, before hopefully being available in 5 to 10 years.