Since the 1950s, doctors have been using the same painful method of injecting vaccines into the muscle.
Roughly 50 percent of children don’t get vaccinated due to the fear of needles and the difficulties associated with administering inhaled versions. This has led to the increase in the flu epidemic that is present in this country every year.
One problem with injectable vaccines, other than being painful, is the possibility for contamination and HIV. But the bigger issue is that live vaccines must be refrigerated. This is a huge concern for a lot of poor countries as refrigeration is not available.
New discoveries in nanotechnology have lead to the development of a dime-sized “Nanopatch” which can administer the flu vaccine painlessly.
How does this work?
The patch has thousands of vaccine-coated micro-projections that penetrate the outer layers of the skin with a quick release -- often just seconds -- once they come in contact with moisture within the skin. These micro-projections, while able to transfer the medication into the skin, do not go deep enough to reach the pain receptors, and don’t need to be refrigerated.
Is this available now?
The technology is currently being tested only on mice, but the studies look promising with a 90 percent success rate. Once approved at the pre-clinical level, the Nanopatch will move to clinical trials on humans and if they keep up the 90 percent success rate, it will be available to the public within 5 years or less.
What does this mean for the future?
This doesn’t stop with just the flu vaccine. The use of the Nanopatch could open the door to other forms of treatment for conditions like insulin-dependent diabetes, inflammatory diseases that require steroid injections and malnutrition. Research is also being developed using nanotechnology for Tuberculosis and Malaria vaccines.
Experts say that the patch could one day take the place of injectable vaccines completely, which will change the way patients will be treated and how medication will be delivered to the human body and save money, and lives, down the road.
Dr. David B. Samadi is the Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He is a board-certified urologist, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urological disease, with a focus on robotic prostate cancer treatments. Dr. Samadi joined Fox News Channel in 2009 as a medical contributor. To learn more please visit his websites RoboticOncology.com and SMART-surgery.com. Find Dr. Samadi on Facebook.