Laser delivery will allow painless, needle-less vaccines

By Fiona BARRY

- Last updated on GMT

Scared of needles? Rhode Island research could provide an alternative
Scared of needles? Rhode Island research could provide an alternative

Related tags Vaccine Immune system Nicotine

A laser-based treatment will allow powdered vaccines to be delivered through the skin, scientists say.

A University of Rhode Island researcher is developing an anti-smoking vaccine administered via “a laser-based epidermal skin powder delivery​”

The laser platform creates micro-channel arrays – tiny pores – in the skin, through which a powdered vaccine is delivered from a patch applied onto the skin.

To fund the research, the US National Institute of Drug Abuse has granted $1.08m and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has given $432,000 to Xinyuan Chen, an assistant professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences at Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy.

According to Chen, the system could lead to the first FDA-approved nicotine vaccine, and beyond that, could provide a painless, needle-free alternative to liquid injections in children and adults.

Generally, vaccines are liquid, but powdered vaccines are more convenient and they have a longer shelf-life,​” Chen said.

Separating adjuvants

Chen said the key part of his research involves adjuvants. His system uses MPL and CpG, which are very powerful and can cause reactions:
Normally, with a standard vaccine injection, all of the vaccine and all of the adjuvant are delivered all at once at the same location. This approach can be very difficult to handle by the skin and body overall.​”

If successful, the epidermal powder technology could minimise adjuvant-induced skin reactions by delivering the ingredients through hundreds or thousands of separated micro-channels surrounded by normal healthy skin.
In experiments so far, Chen’s team used a 6mm by 6mm patch made of contact lens material perforated with 81 channels to deliver 810 micrograms of nicotine vaccine. A typical flu injection contains 45 micrograms of liquid.

The method also allows use of potent nano-encapsuated adjuvants to safely boost skin vaccination without significant local reactions.
This system is expected to safely and profoundly boost nicotine antibody production and completely block nicotine entry into the brain,​” Chen said. His nicotine vaccine candidate works by inducing antibodies which block the addictive chemical from entering the brain.

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