Is this the future of vaccines? UNC Researchers Create 3D Printed Vaccine Patches | national


CHAPEL HILL, NC – Scientists at UNC-Chapel Hill and Stanford University said last week that they had succeeded in creating a 3D printed vaccine patch that offers a stronger immune response than a standard vaccine.

The patch, which would be placed on the skin like a bandage, is covered with microneedles that deliver the vaccines directly into the skin.

Researchers tested the patches on animals and, in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reported an antibody response 50 times greater than that of traditional jab. The patches were applied with thumb pressure for two minutes and then left on the skin for 24 hours, according to the study.

The results could have a profound impact on the logistical deployment of vaccines in the future, said Joseph DeSimone, professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University and professor emeritus at UNC.

The patches are virtually painless and could eliminate one of the main reasons people refuse to be vaccinated – fear of needle injections.

But most importantly, DeSimone said, is that they don’t require extremely cold temperatures like some vaccines, which makes them easier and cheaper to ship all over the world.

“I think that’s totally” the future of vaccines, DeSimone said in a phone interview with The News & Observer. “I think microneedles can be the operating system for vaccine design – the operating system. And I think we put too much weight on the traditional way of delivery, even at the design stage of the vaccine. vaccines. “

It remains to be seen whether the patch will ever be used to deliver COVID-19 vaccines. DeSimone told The N&O that the patch could be ready for human clinical trials in 18 to 14 months.

DeSimone is a leading figure in the world of 3D printing.

During his time at UNC – where he worked from 1990 to 2014 – DeSimone pioneered a new type of 3D printing called Continuous Liquid Interface Production, or CLIP.

CLIP’s breakthrough helped DeSimone launch 3D printing company Carbon Inc., which has raised more than $ 680 million from investors and has clients ranging from Adidas to Ford Motor Co.

The micro needles for the patches were made using a Carbon CLIP 3D printer, UNC said.

DeSimone said the patches create a stronger immune response than needles because they deliver the vaccine to the skin rather than the muscle.

“Vaccine target cells are much more common in our skin than in our muscles,” he said. “And that’s because of the way we’ve evolved. You know, if you fall and cut, the first line of defense to avoid infection is in the skin and those immune cells are the targets of the vaccine. There is literally 100 to 1,000 times more per unit volume in skin than in muscle. “

The patches have been tested with a model vaccine, but DeSimone believes they could carry any type of vaccine, including mRNA vaccines that were used so effectively during the coronavirus pandemic.

The work behind 3D printing of vaccine patches predates the COVID-19 pandemic by a few years. But the difficulties in delivering vaccines around the world have shown just how critical vaccine technology is, DeSimone said.

“Despite how terrible this pandemic has been – and it has been awful, really awful – it could have been a lot worse,” he said. “This thing could have been bird flu with a 30% death rate, and we would be scrambling a lot more than we were.

“I think a lot of people think it’s only a matter of time (before the next pandemic), and so technologies like this need to be prepared for the future.”

According to DeSimone’s own projections, significant cost savings could also be achieved. “I’ve heard numbers of syringe needles and glass vials and everything north of $ 3 to $ 7 (per vaccine). And I think we can make these patches for less than 10 cents,” did he declare.

DeSimone, optimistically, said the ease of transport of 3D patches could revolutionize the way vaccines are administered.

“We think – and our emerging business partners think – that the meaning of all of this is that you are going to receive a vaccine through like Amazon or the US Postal Service in the future,” he said.

The next step for the patches is a clinical trial in non-human primates. It could happen as early as the first part of 2022, and ultimately trials would focus on specific vaccines rather than models.

Business partners, however, are already reaching out to DeSimone to work with the technology, and universities are eager to bring it to market.

“We love to market things, so we’re keen to help facilitate the creation of strategic partnerships to make that happen,” he said. “We are in these dialogues now.”

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