A Patch That Delivers Vaccines, No Needles Necessary
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Vaccines save lives, but most of them are delivered by needle. That’s a problem for people without access to refrigerated solution, clean syringes, and safe ways to dispose of medical waste. Biomedical engineer Kasia Sawicka invented a painless alternative: a patch, called ImmunoMatrix, that can vaccinate patients without breaking the skin. “This technology can affect how vaccines are delivered, especially during pandemics,” Sawicka says.
The skin doesn’t absorb large molecules easily, which meant Sawick had to find another way to get vaccines across that barrier. As an undergraduate at Stony Brook University, she worked in a lab that stocked an extremely water-absorbent material called poly-vinylpyrrolidone. She found that this polymer (used in hairspray during the era of beehive hairdos) could pull water out of the skin. When moisture returned, the outer layer of the skin swelled, allowing larger-than-usual molecules to enter.
- Health Care