Getting a needle isn’t enjoyable for anyone, but some of us really don’t like it and will actually put off medical care just to avoid it. Well, if you’re one of those people, or a parent who has to drag your child kicking and screaming into you GP’s office, then a Brisbane researcher has come up with a solution.

Professor Mark Kendall, from the The University of Queensland, has developed a needle-free way of administering vaccinations. It’s called the Nanopatch and is exactly what it sounds like – a small square patch – but with some impressive capabilities.

The Nanopatch is made of silicon “with 20,000 microscopic spikes that deliver vaccines directly to the skin’s immune cells”. And yes, it’s also pain free.

“When you apply the patch to the skin, that tough outer layer of the skin is breached and the vaccine is placed to thousands of cells in the skin,” Professor Kendall said in an ABC News article.

“It gets wet in the cellular environment and within just a minute the vaccine has been delivered.”

If clinical trials are successful, and the invention is approved for use, after 160 years doctors will no longer need to rely on needles as the main method of protecting people against preventative diseases. Perhaps eventually needles will even be phased out altogether.


Device could improve worldwide health: expert

According to Professor Alan Rowan, director of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the Nanopatch could improve the health of millions of people around the world.

He told 9 News the need to keep vaccines chilled “had made vaccination schemes logistically challenging in remote and disadvantaged areas”.

“Vaccines coated onto the Nanopatch do not need to be kept cold, and may require less vaccine for effective immunization when compared to traditional needle and syringe methods,” he said.

According Professor Kendall vaccine patches could be mailed out for people to self-administer in the event of a pandemic.

He hopes to produce the patch vaccine at 50 cents per dose so it’s cheap enough to be used in developing countries.

Inventor wins science prize

Professor Kendall has already been recognised for his invention which took him 20 years to develop. The researcher has been given one of Australia’s most prestigious science honours for his “pioneering work” – the CSL Young Florey Medal.

“Howard Florey was an amazing individual. He made penicillin happen for the world and saved so many lives,” Professor Kendall said.

“To have a medal in his name is amazing.

“I want to make a difference and to be remembered as someone who … contributed,” he said.

Clinical trials are underway in Brisbane and Professor Kendall and his team have partnered with the World Health Organisation to trial a Nanopatch polio vaccine in Cuba next year.

Want to learn more about what vaccinations adults need to stay protected from preventable diseases? Check out this post by House Call Doctor.