Dr. Mark A. F. Kendall led a group of researchers from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Kendall's website talks about the new invention: 'This is a patch with thousands of tiny projections - invisible to the human eye - dry-coated in biomolecules. When the patch is placed against the skin, these projections push through the outer skin layer and deliver the biomolecules precisely to the target cells.'
The results of the paper have been published in the journal Small. Dated July 21, 2010, the paper is entitled 'Targeted, Needle-Free Vaccinations in Skin using Multilayered, Densely-Packed Dissolving Microprojection Arrays' (DOI: 10.1002/smll.201000326).
The other authors of the study include Anthony P. Raphael, Tarl W. Prow, Michael L. Crichton, Xianfeng Chen, and Germain J. P. Fernando.
They state in the abstract to their paper that their new nanopatch does the following: 'Targeting of vaccines to abundant immune cell populations within our outer thin skin layers using miniaturized devices - much thinner than a needle and syringe, could improve the efficacy of vaccines (and other immunotherapies)."
The nanopatch is a 'densely packed dissolving microprojection array (dissolving Nanopatch)' that is designed to use small microneedles that are two times smaller than a standard needle and syringe.
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They add, 'The formulation method is suitable to many vaccines because it is without harsh or complex chemical processes, and it is performed at low temperatures and at a neutral pH. When the formulated dNPs are applied to skin, consistent and robust penetration is achieved, rapidly targeting the skin strata of interest." [Abstract]
The authors state they believe this is the first time anyone has invented a way to vaccinate humans with the use of dissolving microneedles.
They stated, 'The patches made by this method therefore have the potential for pain-free, needle-free, and effective vaccination in humans.'
Dr. Kendall states in the July 26, 2010 ABC News article Nano-patch could replace syringe: "The World Health Organization estimates that 30% of vaccinations in Africa are unsafe due to cross-contamination caused by needle-stick injury.
And, "That's a healthcare burden of about $25 per administration." [ABC News]
The nanopatch is smaller than a postage stamp. It has approximately 20,000 projections per square centimeter.
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The microprojections contact the skin, are pushed through the outer layer of skin, and then deliver their 'biomolecules' to the cells of the skin.
The nanopatch allows people to give themselves a vaccine (self-administration), without the need of a nurse or doctor giving them a shot.
It is also able to be easily delivered through the mail (post) because it does not need refrigeration.
Dr. Kendall says, in the ABC News article, that the nanopatch ''¦ is 10 times better than any other delivery method.'
Kendall concludes with: "We've proven it in the mouse, the next step is to prove it in man.' [ABC News] This will be done with clinical trials in the near future.