Researchers have proved that "injection-free" vaccines are an effective tool in the fight against diseases. The team, based in King's College London and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, used dried sugar to create a microneedle array — a tiny disc that only lightly perforates the skin. The dried sugar, which was laced with a proposed HIV vaccine, dissolves when inserted in to the skin, effectively delivering the vaccine and kick-starting an immune response. The method is far less invasive than conventional vaccines that are delivered via a hypodermic needle.
Other benefits to the microneedle array include preservation; many traditional liquid vaccines need to be kept at extremely low temperatures, which is a major barrier to transportation. The researchers' dried vaccine, however, remained as stable and effective at room temperature as the same dose of liquid vaccine preserved at minus 80 degrees Celsius.
The work could lower the cost of vaccinations
The team's findings, which expand on years of research across the globe, could help lower the cost of vaccinations across the globe. Dr Linda Klavinskis of Kings College says the work "could potentially reduce the cost of manufacturing and transportation" as there would be no need for refrigeration, as well lowering the risk of transmitting diseases through contaminated needles and syringes. The team hopes to one day use the method to vaccinate against HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis; three global issues that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is focused on fixing.