Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Patch Work

Printed microneedle patch storable at room temperature enables vaccines to be easily distributed globally

23 May 2023

Patch Work

Developing a vaccine is only half the job to saving lives – distributing it can be a real challenge. Many drugs need to be kept cool and require hypodermic needles for injection – these microneedles may change that. Each tiny pyramid (roughly 140,000 times smaller than the ones in Giza) forms in a mould – where a chemical cocktail containing lipid nanoparticles – tiny capsules of a COVID-19 vaccine – are sucked to the tip of the microneedle. Each bed of needles is a sort of patch, pressed painlessly against the skin they dissolve, releasing the vaccine. Microneedle printers are about the same size as a desktop ink printer and could be shipped around the world to sites of potential outbreaks. What’s more, the vaccine patches can be stored at room temperature for months, making them easier to distribute quickly in warmer countries.


Written by John Ankers

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