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A Patch to Deliver Vaccine

Patches made up of microneedles may be an effective way to deliver, or 'tattoo', DNA vaccines, researchers led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Darrell Irvine report in Nature Materials. In their paper, they present "an approach for rapid implantation of vaccine-loaded polymer films carrying DNA, immune-stimulatory RNA, and biodegradable polycations into the immune-cell-rich epidermis, using microneedles coated with releasable polyelectrolyte multilayers."

TechNewsDaily notes that rhesus monkeys given a patch of microneedles coated with a DNA vaccine had a 140-fold higher gene expression response than monkeys that received the vaccine though an injection.

"We have very direct control over how the vaccine is delivered, and the prolonged exposure to the vaccine that is possible with this system can really enhance immunity," MIT's Peter DeMuth, the paper's first author, tells TechNewsDaily. He adds that the patch feels a bit like a cat's tongue.

Additionally, the microneedle patches may be stored at room temperature for weeks.