3D Printed Vaccine Patch Could Revolutionise Immunisation Process

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Sep 27, 2021 05:57 PM +05:30 IST
3D Printed Vaccine Patch Could Revolutionise Immunisation Process3D Printed Vaccine Patch (Image: UNC)
Snapshot
  • The scientists at Stanford University and the University of North Carolina have created a 3D printed vaccine patch that is claimed to have the ability to provide "greater protection" than a traditional vaccine shot.

    As per the developers, the 3D printed vaccine patch is painless, self-administrable and does not require to be kept in the freezer.

Scientists at Stanford University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill have developed a new technology that has the potential to revolutionise vaccine administration.

The scientists have created a 3D printed vaccine patch that is as small as the tip of the finger and claimed to have the ability to provide "greater protection" than a traditional vaccine shot.

The vaccine patch includes microneedles which are just long enough to adhere to the skin and then targets immune cells directly.

As said in the UNC's website, "The resulting immune response from the vaccine patch was 10 times greater than a vaccine delivered into an arm muscle with a needle jab, according to a study conducted in animals and published by the team of scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

This patch is also painless, self-administrable and does not require to be kept in the freezer. According to the developers, all of these benefits should make the vaccines more efficient and easier to deploy around the world.

The coronavirus pandemic has served as a harsh reminder of the impact that timely immunisation can have. A vaccination, on the other hand, usually necessitates a trip to a clinic or hospital.

Healthcare workers are assigned to store and administer the jabs. Although it appears to be a straightforward operation, there are a number of obstacles that can obstruct mass vaccination, ranging from the required cold storage to the necessity for qualified experts to administer the shots—we have seen the shortage of healthcare professionals during the pandemic.

But it is believed that the vaccine patches, which contain vaccine-coated microneedles and dissolve into the skin, maybe supplied anywhere in the world and applied by anyone. Additionally, the university website said that the simplicity with which a vaccine patch can be applied might result in increased immunisation rates.

Joseph M. DeSimone, professor of translational medicine and chemical engineering at Stanford University and professor emeritus at UNC-Chapel Hill, who is also the principal study author and a 3D print technology entrepreneur, said: "In developing this technology, we hope to set the foundation for even more rapid global development of vaccines, at lower doses, in a pain- and anxiety-free manner."

According to study findings, the vaccine patch elicited a 50-fold higher T-cell and antigen-specific antibody response than a subcutaneous injection given under the skin. The University website also noted that due to the increased immune reaction, a microneedle vaccine patch could use a lesser dose to elicit the same immunological response as a vaccine delivered using a needle.

However, microneedles aren't brand-new medical devices. They've been studied for decades, but this discovery solves previous hurdles in their fabrication. Master templates are used to create moulds for the majority of microneedle vaccinations. Microneedle moulding, on the other hand, is not very adaptable, and it has limitations such as decreased needle sharpness during reproduction.

As per Shaomin Tian, a researcher in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the UNC School of Medicine, as well as the study author, their approach has allowed them to 3D print the microneedles directly, providing a lot of design freedom to create the greatest microneedles possible in terms of performance and cost.

As the university website noted, through the 3D printing technology, the microneedles can be easily customised to develop various vaccine patches, including flu, measles, hepatitis and Covid-19 vaccines.

However, microbiologists and chemical engineers are continuing to push the envelope by converting RNA vaccines, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, into microneedle patches for future testing.

DeSimone, who invented the CLIP prototype 3D printer, which was used to 3D print the microneedle patches at Carolina, said "One of the biggest lessons we've learned during the pandemic is that innovation in science and technology can make or break a global response. Thankfully we have biotech and health care workers pushing the envelope for us all."

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