British scientists inject freeze-dried vaccine attached to glucose spikes into test animals
CONFIRMED: Researchers' findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal
The group at Kings College London found the freeze-dried "live" vaccine to be as effective as the liquid version injected more deeply by needle, according to Financial Times.
"This work opens up the exciting possibility of being able to deliver live vaccines in a global context, without the need for refrigeration," said Linda Klavinskis, who led the research.
Currently, there are several experimental fragile vaccines that require an uninterrupted refrigerated "cold chain," FT reported, making it difficult to distribute them to poor tropical countries. The needle-free method also could reduce the risk of "needle-stick" injuries incurred from a used syringe contaminated with blood or bacteria.
And, of course, it would greatly benefit people who suffer from trypanophobia, the fear of needles.
Scientists created microneedles that coated the dried vaccine on to a sugar mold. These glucose spikes are then applied to the skin, generating enough pressure to open the surface layer and allow the vaccine to penetrate.
For the greater good
Theraject, a U.S.-based biotech company, developed the technology that the scientists used to create the microneedles. The company initially licensed the technique for applying anti-wrinkle cosmetics in Asia. Theraject also was developing applications for migraine and pain treatments and flu vaccine in the United States.
And now, the company is eager to help even more people.
"We want to offer it for vaccines in Africa without any profit," said Sung-Yun Kwon, founder of Theraject.
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