Thursday, August 20, 2009

Microneedle patch for painless AMD treatment

The Time (8/19, Sharples) Wellness blog reported that, according to a study presented Aug. 19 at a chemical society meeting, researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University "have developed a patch that has five rows of tiny 'microneedles' about as wide as human hairs that can be used to painlessly administer vaccines and other medications." Testing the device on mice, the investigators found that an influenza "vaccine, administered via the patch, yielded the exact same level of protection as a traditional shot." The team hopes "to begin a trial in humans in 2010." Notably, "this specific patch is the only one so far that has been designed not only to administer drugs through the skin, but also via the surface of the eye," which is "promising news for patients" with age-related "macular degeneration, which can require regular shots into the eye as part of treatment."
HealthDay (8/19, Preidt) reported that the patch, by offering "a painless alternative to hypodermic needles," could someday "make flu shots a thing of the past, and treatment of diseases such as diabetes safer and more effective." Study author Mark Prausnitz, PhD, explained, "Although it would probably first be used in a clinical setting, our vision is to have a self-administered flu vaccine patch." Instead of visiting a physician to get a flu shot, patients could "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," Prausnitz stated. The patch could prove beneficial to patients with AMD, he pointed out, helping them to avoid the "real safety concerns about that kind of repeated injection into the eye."
Detailing how the medicine-coated patch is able to work painlessly, the UK's Daily Mail (8/20) reports that "it reaches far enough through the skin to deliver the drug, but not deep enough to hit the nerves that cause" discomfort. (courtesy AOA)

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