Revolutionary skin patch may spell end of fear and pain caused by common injections.
Medication through skin with minimum discomfort
It is the perfect invention for those with a fear of needles.
A patch that takes the pain out of injections has been developed by scientists.
The stamp-sized patch is studded with dozens of tiny needles, each a fraction of a millimetre long – the equivalent of the width of a few strands of hair.
Coated with medicine, it reaches far enough through the skin to deliver the drug but not deep enough to hit the nerves that cause pain.
Researchers say the patch could be especially useful for sufferers of age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in the elderly.
Although new drugs can improve symptoms, they must be injected directly into the eye each month – something that would be relatively simple by using one of the patches.
Dr Mark Prausnitz, of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in the U.S., said: ‘It’s our goal to get rid of the need for hypodermic needles and replace them with a patch that can be applied by a patient.
The ‘microneedle’ patch that could make traditional jabs redundant
‘If you can move to something that’s as easy to apply as a plaster, you’ve opened the door for people to self-administer their medicine.’
The first tests on people could be carried out next year, the American Chemical Society‘s annual conference heard.
Dr Prausnitz added: ‘Although it would probably first be used in a clinical setting, our vision is to have a self-administered flu vaccine patch. So instead of making an appointment with your doctor to get your flu shot, you can stop by the pharmacy or even get a patch in the mail and self-apply.
‘We think that could very much increase the vaccine coverage since it would be easier for people to be vaccinated.’
The researchers administered flu vaccines to mice using conventional injections and microneedle patches.
They found that both produced the same number of immune system antibodies. But other measures of immune response showed a better reaction with the patches.
Source: Mail Online.Aug. 21.2009