A Vaccine Patch? No longer too good to be true! January 17, 2015 By Caitlin Bradford Leave a Comment A new vaccine delivery system will soon undergo testing, and this may mean needles could become a thing of the past. Vaxxas, an Australian health start-up, is developing in concert with the World Health Organization what is being called a “Nanopatch.” The patch, a little over 1 cm2, is designed with about 20,000 micro-projections (basically mini-needles) that are invisible to the naked eye. These projections are coated with a vaccine, and, when they penetrate the outer skin layer, they target the immune-cell rich layers just beneath the skin to deliver the vaccine into the body’s system. A needle-free delivery system offers benefits beyond eliminating a common objection to vaccination. This delivery method can be used easily in places around the world where medical services are lacking. Imagine, instead of needing to send a medical professional into a potentially dangerous region, it could one day be possible to simply deliver packages that contain a vaccine patch with simple instructions for use. The WHO hopes that Vaxxas’ patch can do just that. With polio becoming a growing problem, especially in regions like the Middle East and Northern Africa that have seen widespread political unrest, the WHO hopes to be able to simply deliver these patches instead of having to spend massive amounts of time and energy attempting to vaccinate those in need. The patch provides a secondary benefit as well. The needles and other items that are needed to carry out a vaccination clinic are often seen as valuable and are stolen by militant factions, but the patches are of little use other than for vaccination. Stealing them thus becomes much less attractive. “Traditionally, micro-needle delivery systems have been held back from commercialization due in part to challenges in manufacturer scaling,” says the Vaxxas website. “At Vaxxas today, personnel in both our technical and commercial camps – and those spanning both – are confident that we have a technology which is inherently simple and feasible for high throughput, cost-effective manufacture.” If true, Vaxxas’s Nanopatch could be a game changer for the vaccination industry and an incredible resource for conflict-ridden regions of the world.