Mark Kendall, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia
Vaccines have produced one of the largest increases in the age of life expectancy in human history. However massive challenges remain, with 17 million deaths per year due to infectious disease – mostly in the developing-world. I will discuss the particular challenges holding back vaccines within the developing world; together with potential solutions under development. My particular focus will move to the needle and syringe: currently the main vaccination method, which was first invented in 1853. The needle is holding back the rollout of vaccines by (1) placing vaccine into muscle, arguably missing our immune “sweet spot”); (2) the need for maintaining the refrigeration “cold chain” of the vaccine in liquid form; and (3) cross-contamination through needle-stick injuries. I will then introduce the Nanopatch – conceived to tackle all three of these needle-based problems – a patch bearing an ultra-high density array of projections that delivers dry-coated vaccine into the skin's outer layers; abundant with immune cells. In addition, I will outline the Nanopatch journey from idea towards clinical utility as a medical device product.