Solution to the fear of needles?
It is estimated that around 10% of the general population have a needle phobia, or ‘trypanophobia’. It’s a problem that prevents many from getting the vaccinations that could stop them getting possibly deadly diseases in later life.
But now there is an alternative emerging! Created by Vaxxas, the Nanopatch is an invention claimed to be pain free and needle free, promising to be much more inviting than the conventional needle and syringe.
The Nanopatch is comprised of a 1cm2 patch with approximately 20,000 projections on its surface, completely invisible to the naked eye, and much thinner than the needle of a syringe, going less than a hairs width under the skin. Whereas the
ordinary needle penetrates into the muscle where there are no immune cells, the microprojections on the Nanopatch penetrate through the outer layer of the skin into the layers of the skin just beneath, which are rich in immune cells, with the potential to achieve a faster immune response.
In addition to the benefits of it being pain and needle free, the Nanopatch also offers benefits economically and socially. When the immune response of the needle was compared to the Nanopatch at different concentrations, the Nanopatch was consistently higher at lower doses. It has been shown that a protective immunogenic response can be achieved by using as little as one hundredth of the dose required currently by the needle and syringe.
Another beneficial factor is the elimination of the cold chain, a temperature controlled storage chain, which as well as increasing practicality, reduces cost. The cold chain exists with current vaccines; they are kept in a liquid form which means that from production to injection they need to be kept cooled in a refrigerator at around 5°C. Any higher or lower, and the vaccine can break down and become ineffective. This is particularly a problem in countries such as Africa where the cold chain can be easily broken; it is estimated that approximately half of all vaccines in Africa do not work because of this. Papua New Guinea is another example of where refrigeration is a problem, making vaccination very hard to achieve successfully.
The Nanopatch overcomes the problem of the cold chain simply because it is a solid form instead of liquid; it is in a powdered form on the micro projections. This powdered form of coating remain intact when inserted into the skin, but once in contact with the moisture of the skin, it releases quickly, often in seconds. The patch simply has to be applied to the skin, and can then be removed and disposed of.
Since the Nanopatch is intended to be applied to the skin of all ages through just one design, an applicator has also been designed to ensure that vaccine delivery is consistent every time on all different skin types.
This is a technology which, if successful, promises vaccination reaching more corners of the earth and appeals to more people, specifically those who have previously been deterred due to needle phobia. Although is just in the early stages of human trials, it has shown positive results so far and has high hopes for the future.
Here you can see a talk from the inventor.
Priory Academy LSST