3D printed vaccine patch

3D printed vaccine patch

Scientists are developing a method for a significantly increased immune response

8 November 2021

The number of infections is currently increasing again, and with it the desire or need for a vaccination. A team of scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Stanford University has developed a 3D printed vaccine patch with microneedles that is said to offer an improvement on the previously common vaccination with a needle.

Immune response 10 times greater

The patch is applied directly to the skin and the vaccine enters the body via the 3D printed microneedles. There, the immune response is said to be significantly greater than that of a conventional vaccination. In animal experiments, a 10-times greater immune response was found.

A significant T-cell and antigen-specific antibody response was also found that was 50 times greater than when injected into an arm muscle. The scientists attribute the success particularly to the 3D-printed microneedles.

„In developing this technology, we hope to set the foundation for even more rapid global development of vaccines, at lower doses, in a pain- and anxiety-free manner“, said lead study author and professor of translational medicine and chemical engineering at Stanford University Joseph M. DeSimone.

The vaccine patch sets the course for a new way to deliver vaccines that are less painful and less invasive than injecting with a needle. The heightened immune response could lead to a dose sparing, with a microneedle vaccine patch using a smaller dose to generate a similar immune response as a vaccine delivered with a needle and syringe. While microneedle patches have been studied for decades, the team has solved some of the challenges of the past. Using 3D printing, for example, the microneedles can be easily adapted to create different vaccine patches against flu, measles, hepatitis or COVID-19.

Vaccine patches can contain vaccine-coated microneedles that dissolve in the skin, are shipped all over the world without any special handling and are attached by people themselves. In this way, vaccination rates could be increased significantly.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the microneedle patches were built using a CLIP 3D-prototype printer. DeSimone invented it and Carbon is producing the printer. The team would now like to reformulate mRNA-vaccines such as those from Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna into microneedle patches and manufacture them from a performance and cost perspective.

A research report has appeared at: https://www.pnas.org/content/118/39/e2102595118

image: Vaccine patch with 3D printed microneedles (source: University of North Carolina)