• These patches could be new way to deliver flu vaccine

    By: Wendy Corona


    Georgia health officials said flu activity in the state still seems to be on the rise.

    This week, a 15-year-old student in DeKalb County died from the flu.

    Doctors said it’s not too late to get a flu shot. In the future, you may be able to get a flu patch.

    Researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory University are working together on a new way to deliver the flu vaccine using microneedles on a patch the size of a small, round Band-Aid.

    "So the thought was: Let's get rid of that needle and syringe and put it in a format that, one, isn't scary for people, but, two, could also lead to people self-administering the vaccine," said Dr. Mark Prausnitz, with Georgia Tech Regents.

    The microneedles are made of sucrose and dissolve when they hit the skin. There is no needle or syringe to dispose of.


    The first human study took place at Emory University's Hope Clinic, with 100 people, and the results were promising.

    "We found that this new needle-free microneedle patch produced an antibody response that was as good as the standard needled-and-syringe injection," said Mark Mulligan, director of the Hope Clinic vaccine center.

    More clinical trials, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, are necessary before the patch can gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration and be available to the masses. Officials said it could be about five years before the patches hit the market.

    Prausnitz said the patches could be easily available for everyone.

    "They pick up groceries. They pick up patches for the family, bring them home, stick them on and everyone is vaccinated," he said.

    The team is also working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a patch vaccine for polio and a combination patch for measles and rubella.

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