A safer vaccine delivery method based on microneedle technology is being advanced by an international research team. The self-sterilizing and dissolving nanosilver-loaded microneedle patch inhibits microbial pathogen growth at the insertion site.

Each patch includes a 15 x 15 array of microneedles, each 700 microns in length, for painless injection of Illustration depicts administration of the microneedle patch. Source: University of South AustraliaIllustration depicts administration of the microneedle patch. Source: University of South Australiavaccines. The projections are composed of carboxymethylcellulose, a biocompatible water-soluble polymer that dissolves within one minute of administration. The needles are also loaded with antibacterial silver to sterilize the target area and prevent injection-related infection.

The patch was demonstrated to kill common skin infection-causing bacteria, including Staphylococcus epidermis, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and to leave the application area bacteria-free for 24 hours.

Microneedle systems are under development to painlessly deliver an array of pharmaceuticals, including contraceptives, weight reduction agents and ocular medicines.

In addition to improving vaccination safety, the microneedle patch designed by researchers from the University of South Australia, Qilu Hospital (China) and University of Adelaide (Australia) eliminates refrigeration requirements and the need to handle and dispose of hazardous sharps.

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