Nav: Home

Flu vaccine given in microneedle skin patches proves effective in mice

April 27, 2009

Flu vaccine delivered through skin patches containing microneedles has proven just as effective at preventing influenza in mice as intramuscular, hypodermic flu immunization. A team of researchers at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology believes the new microneedle skin patch method of delivering flu vaccine could improve overall seasonal vaccination coverage in people because of decreased pain, increased convenience, lower cost and simpler logistics over conventional hypodermic immunization.

The research will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Another study by the research team on a different influenza strain was described in the journal PLoS ONE.

The patches used in the experiments contained an array of stainless steel microneedles coated with inactivated influenza virus. The patches were pressed manually into the skin and after a few minutes, the vaccine coating dissolved off within the skin. The coated microneedle immunizations were compared to conventional intramuscular hypodermic injections at the same dose in another group of mice.

The researchers found that the microneedle vaccinations induced strong immune responses against influenza virus that were comparable to immune responses induced by the intramuscular, hypodermic immunizations. One month after vaccination, the researchers infected both groups of mice with a high dose of influenza virus. While all mice in a control group of unvaccinated mice died of influenza, all mice in both the hypodermic and the microneedle groups survived.

"Our findings show that microneedle patches are just as effective at protecting against influenza as conventional hypodermic immunizations," says Richard Compans, PhD, Emory professor of microbiology and immunology and one of the paper's senior authors. "In addition, vaccine delivery into the skin is desirable because of the skin's rich immune network."

Even though cutaneous immunization has been shown to induce a broad range of immune responses, and to be especially effective in individuals over age 60, this method has not been widely used because it has not been convenient and has required highly trained personnel.

"Unlike conventional hypodermic injections, microneedles are prepared in a patch for simple administration, possibly by patients themselves, and inserted painlessly onto the skin without specialized training," says Mark Prausnitz, PhD, professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and co-senior author. "These micron-scale needles can be mass produced using low-cost methods for distribution to doctors' office, pharmacies and, possibly, people's homes."

Other advantages of the microneedle patches could include more convenient storage, easier transportation and lower dosage requirements. Lower doses could be particularly important because flu vaccine production capacity sometimes is limited for seasonal vaccine, and a future influenza pandemic would require much greater production of vaccine.

Replacing a hypodermic needle with a microneedle patch also could significantly impact the way other vaccines are delivered, and could be particularly beneficial in developing countries. A microneedle patch could fit inside an envelope for delivery by the postal service and would occupy much less storage space. Patches also would increase vaccine safety by reducing the dangers of accidental or intentional hypodermic needle re-use.

The project team plans future immunization studies in other animal models, including guinea pigs or ferrets, before initiating studies in humans. Also, more studies are needed to determine the minimum vaccine dose needed for full protection.

The Emory and Georgia Tech research team began developing the new microneedle vaccine patch technology in 2007 using grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The project team has extensive experience in microneedle development, influenza vaccines, vaccine delivery systems, product development and interdisciplinary collaboration.

In 2007 the NIH awarded a $32.8 million, seven-year contract to Emory, along with the University of Georgia, to establish the Emory/UGA Influenza Pathogenesis and Immunology Research Center. The center is working to improve the effectiveness of flu vaccines through a number of different projects studying how influenza viruses attack their hosts, how they are transmitted, and what new immune targets might be identified for antiviral medicines.

Prausnitz and his colleagues have been working since the mid 1990s to develop microneedle technology for painless drug and vaccine delivery through the skin. The Georgia Tech team has also developed manufacturing processes for microneedle patches and tested the ability of the needles to deliver proteins, vaccines, nanoparticles, and other small and large molecules through the skin.
-end-
Other authors of the papers are Emory microbiologists Ioanna Skountzou and Chinglai Yang, and first authors Ling Ye, Qiyun Zhu, Dimitrios Koutsonanos, and Maria del Pilar Martin from Emory and Vladimir Zarnitsyn from Georgia Tech. Other authors and contributors were Yulong Gao, Lei Pan, and Zhiyuan Wen from Emory, and Harvinder Gill and Sean Sullivan from Georgia Tech.

The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children's Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, the jointly owned Emory-Adventist Hospital, and EHCA, a limited liability company created with Hospital Corporation of America. EHCA includes two joint venture hospitals, Emory Eastside Medical Center and Emory Johns Creek Hospital. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 18,000 employees, 2,500 full-time and 1,500 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $5.5 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

Emory Health Sciences

Related Influenza Articles:

Birds become immune to influenza
An influenza infection in birds gives a good protection against other subtypes of the virus, like a natural vaccination, according to a new study.
Researchers shed new light on influenza detection
Notre Dame Researchers have discovered a way to make influenza visible to the naked eye, by engineering dye molecules to target a specific enzyme of the virus.
Maternal vaccination again influenza associated with protection for infants
How long does the protection from a mother's immunization against influenza during pregnancy last for infants after they are born?
Influenza in the tropics shows variable seasonality
Whilst countries in the tropics and subtropics exhibit diverse patterns of seasonal flu activity, they can be grouped into eight geographical zones to optimise vaccine formulation and delivery timing, according to a study published April 27, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
Influenza viruses can hide from the immune system
Influenza is able to mask itself, so that the virus is not initially detected by our immune system.
Using 'big data' to combat influenza
Team of scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute among those who combined large genomic and proteomic datasets to identify novel host targets to treat flu.
Rapidly assessing the next influenza pandemic
Influenza pandemics are potentially the most serious natural catastrophes that affect the human population.
Early detection of highly pathogenic influenza viruses
Lack of appropriate drugs and vaccines during the influenza A virus pandemic in 2009, the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa, as well as the ongoing Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus outbreak demonstrates that the world is only insufficiently prepared for global attacks of emerging infectious diseases and that the handling of such threats remains a great challenge.
Study maps travel of H7 influenza genes
In a new bioinformatics analysis of the H7N9 influenza virus that has recently infected humans in China, researchers trace the separate phylogenetic histories of the virus's genes, giving a frightening new picture of viruses where the genes are traveling independently in the environment, across large geographic distances and between species, to form 'a new constellation of genes -- a new disease, based not only on H7, but other strains of influenza.'
Influenza A potentiates pneumococcal co-infection: New details emerge
Influenza infection can enhance the ability of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae to cause ear and throat infections, according to research published ahead of print in the journal Infection and Immunity.

Related Influenza Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.