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Covid-19 vaccine: skin patches may work better than injections


The Covid-19 vaccine currently in use should be stored at low temperatures, but patches covered with small plastic spikes coated with the vaccine may provide an alternative.


October 29, 2021


Vaccine skin patch

Square vaccine skin patch is inside the applicator

David Muller / University of Queensland

Skin patch for administration COVID-19 Studies in mice show that vaccines provide better immune protection than traditional injections. The patch can be stored at room temperature and self-administered, making it suitable for use in refrigerated facilities and in areas where medical staff are scarce.

The covid-19 vaccine is currently widely available in many countries, but must be transported and stored at low temperatures. “We wanted to come up with an alternative that was long enough to travel the last mile, especially in a resource-constrained environment,” he said. David Muller At the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Muller and his colleagues have spent years developing skin patches that can deliver flu, polio, dengue, and other vaccines without the need for needles or refrigeration. They wondered if the same technology could be used for the covid-19 vaccine.

The centimeter-wide skin patch is dotted with 5,000 small plastic spikes, each 1/4 mm long and coated with a dry vaccine that is more stable than liquid. The patch is applied with an applicator that painlessly pushes the vaccine into the upper layers of the skin.

Vaccines delivered this way tend to elicit a stronger immune response because the skin is full of immune cells, Müller says. For example, if the flu vaccine is given through this skin patch 1/6 of normal dose It can be used because it has a strong response.

Researchers tested skin patches with a covid-19 vaccine candidate called HexaPro, developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. It is still tested in clinical trials, but it is more thermostable and cheaper to manufacture than existing vaccines.

Mice treated with the patch developed more coronavirus antibody It was more completely protected from getting sick with a single dose than the one injected with the vaccine.

The HexaPro vaccine was stable on skin patches for at least 1 month when stored at 25 ° C for 1 week and at 40 ° C for 1 week.

Trials of the covid-19 vaccine skin patch in people will begin next year. Once approved, HexaPro is easy to adapt to different variants, so it could be used to provide booster doses and protect against new virus strains, Muller said.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abj8065

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