Those who tremble at the sight of a needle may one day be able to receive immunizations via a DNA vaccine patch.
Funded by the National Science Council (NSC), the patches have been jointly developed by scientists from National Taiwan Ocean University, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology and Academic Sinica’s Genomics Research Center.
Research results on the patches were published in the May 4 issue of the Journal of Controlled Release.
National Taiwan Ocean University associate professor Wu Chang-jer (吳彰哲) said at a press conference yesterday that DNA vaccines are usually administered using an intramuscular injection or gene gun.
However, many patients are afraid of needles and syringes, and infections can result if the needles are not clean.
The cost of using gene guns to administer the vaccine is also high, he said.
Explaining how the DNA vaccine works, Wu said that the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis, helps block the entry of substances coming from the outside.
The patch first removes the stratum corneum with hydroxy acids so that the DNA vaccine can enter the body through the skin.
The vaccine is also wrapped with liposomes, which stop the vaccine from being catalyzed and help join the vaccine and the cells so the antigen for a disease can be produced.
“The advantage of the DNA patch is that it is very stable and can be preserved under normal temperatures,” Wu said. “Since the patch does not penetrate the skin, there will not be any cross-infection issues.”
Wu said that only two patches are needed for the vaccines to take effect. Patients can take the patches off after two to three hours.
Wu said that the patches could be available in two years to 10 years, depending on how long it takes to complete testing and secure approval from the government.
The research team is trying to develop a DNA vaccine patch for Japanese encephalitis for mass production. It is planning to develop DNA vaccine patches for other epidemic diseases, such as SARS and avian flu.