Globally, measles is the leading cause of death in young children. In 2013, the World Health Organization documented 145,700 measles-related deaths worldwide. Did that get your attention? Now consider the most recent outbreaks in the United States, and you understand what the fuss is all about. But now, researchers may have found a way to get needed vaccinations to even remote areas of the world- and it couldn’t have been done without monkeys.
Researchers worked with macaques to develop a new method of vaccination in the form of a small, 1-cm wearable patch that more closely resembles a sticker than a needle. This patch is applied to the skin like a sticker, and the 100 tiny microneedles on the ‘sticky’ side dissolve in a matter of minutes, effectively delivering the measles vaccine.
This type of vaccination could make a big difference in parts of the world where traditional vaccines are difficult to administer. Microneedle patches are easier to store than traditional vaccines, health care workers don’t need extensive training to administer them, and sharps disposal wouldn’t be an issue at all- the sticker patch is simply thrown away after the microneedles dissolve. If this type of vaccination is made available worldwide, it could possibly be a good alternative for parents who withhold vaccinations because of the distress caused by a needle injection, as well. Read more about this research here. It’s possible that human clinical trials for these microneedle patches could start as early as 2017!