Ingestible Microneedles for Pain-Free Vaccination

Ingestible Microneedles for Pain-Free Vaccination

Jacob Coffey, Robert Langer, Giovanni Traverso

MIT Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering

Rapid and widespread administration of vaccines is critical when responding to pandemics like the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Microneedles provide a way for vaccines to be self-administered ­by patients in a pain-free manner ideal for this purpose. This false colored cryogenic scanning electron micrograph shows a solid layer of vaccine (in brown) coated onto an array of microneedles (gold) which are barely visible to the naked eye (hundreds of micrometers in length). Hundreds of these microneedles form a vaccine coated ‘patch’ which can be used to deliver vaccine minimally invasively to accessible body ‘surfaces’ such as the skin or more recently to gastrointestinal mucosa (buccal, stomach, intestines) by orally ingestible devices developed in the Traverso and Langer Labs. Vaccine coatings dissolve when inserted in tissue. Delivery of vaccine to mucosal surfaces may also provide better mucosal immune responses which may limit breakthrough infection and the transmission of viruses in vaccinated individuals. 

an ocean of blue and aqua layers are pierced by coral-colored spikes rising from the bottom of the image

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