Scientists from University College Cork (UCC) have developed a micro-needle patch that lowers the amount of vaccine needed for the treatment of malaria and could potentially be used on other lethal viruses.
The small patch, which contains a number of tiny needles, uses two existing vaccine technologies to remove the need to make and use multiple different vaccine types to induce protective immunity.
This could potentially lead to a significant reduction in logistical and production costs by removing the need for different methods of introducing the vaccines to the patient, many of which could also help prevent the spread of some of the world’s deadliest diseases, including influenza and Ebola.
The skin patch’s micro-needles are designed to painlessly create temporary pores in the outermost barrier layer of the skin, permitting the vaccine to flow into it, which is rich in cells of the immune system.
The experimental vaccine has been based on a live adenovirus similar to those that can cause a common cold, but is engineered to be safer and to deliver a protein from the malaria-causing parasite to the immune system.
Lead researcher on the project, Dr Anne Moore, will soon be flying to Silicon Valley, California, to meet venture capitalists and leading technology companies with a view to commercialising the research.
Moore describes the potential as ‘exciting’.
“What’s exciting from this work is that administration of this vaccine with the micro-needle patch did not induce this strong anti-adenovirus immunity, even though very potent immunity to the malaria antigen is generated.”