Nanopatch could remove needle phobia and cold chain problems

1 September 2011

A needle-free vaccine delivery system may be a step closer after major investment into an Australian researcher’s pioneering work

Professor Mark Kendall has been developing the nanopatch – that uses thousands of small projections to deliver vaccine to immune cells in the skin. He says early-stage testing in animals has so far shown a nanopatch-delivered flu vaccine was effective with only 1/150th of the dose compared to a syringe.

Apart from potentially removing the issue of needle phobia, the patch is also designed for thermostability and does not need refrigeration. Kendall said in the developed world about 14 per cent of a vaccine’s costs were in maintaining the cold chain – while in the developing world the impact was even greater. “In Africa, about half of vaccines aren’t working properly because of a breakdown in the cold chain,” Professor Kendall said. “The nanopatch also offers a way to stop needle-stick injuries during vaccination – which again is a particular problem in Africa; with a third of vaccines affected by other complications brought about through cross-contamination needle-stick injury.”

In August, the University of Queensland announced a multi-million dollar investment deal for a start-up company to turn the work of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology researcher into commercial reality.