Sydney, Oct 31 : Scientists from the University of Queensland (UQ) successfully developed a method that can deliver vaccines using a pain-free "patch" without needles.
The discovery, published in the Science Advances journal on Saturday, uses a "high-density microarray patch" (HD-MAP) that, after being applied to the recipient's skin, applies thousands of microscopic projections.
Lead researcher, David Muller from UQ's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences said initial testing in mice using an American-made Covid-19 vaccine has shown a "better and faster immune responses," Xinhua news agency reported.
It also neutralizes multiple variants, including the variants first detected in Britain and South Africa, Muller added.
However, the main promise of the technology lies in its ability to be self-administered, vaccinate an individual in a single dose, and be stored at a range of temperatures.
"We've shown this vaccine, when dry-coated on a patch, is stable for at least 30 days at 25 degrees Celsius and one week at 40 degrees.
So it doesn't have the cold chain requirements of some of the current options," said Muller.
This could present a major boon in the global vaccination rollout, especially in developing countries where the availability of doctors and vaccine cooling facilities are scarce.
Beyond vaccinations for coronavirus, the patch technology could also be applied to vaccines for polio, dengue fever and influenza, he added.
"So basically, the patch is a platform technology, which you can pair with the vaccine you want to work on," Muller told Xinhua news agency.
He said once the technology comes out of trials and its production is scaled up, it is expected to have a cost comparable to a prefilled needle and syringe.
Muller has had no shortage of enthusiasm for the technology, especially among Australians who have a phobia of needles, otherwise known as Trypanophobia, which has presented a very real barrier for those wanting to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
"I get emails weekly, asking 'when will it be available,' 'can we participate in the trials.' The only thing they don't realize is that any clinical trial will involve blood draw."
"It's very innocuous.
So, I think for the end user, the experience wouldn't cause a lot of anxiety."