CRI听力:Nanopatch - The Future of Vaccine Delivery? 简介：Needles have often been regarded as a necessary evil when it comes to vaccinations, but Australian researchers believe theyve found a replacement. The…
Needles have often been regarded as a necessary evil when it comes to vaccinations, but Australian researchers believe they've found a replacement. They've substituted sharpened steel for a painless nanopatch which uses a hundred times less the vaccine that an ordinary needle and syringe normally requires.
Our reporter Li Dong has the details.
It's the moment of vaccination. The needle comes out and the previously happy baby dissolves into tears when jabbed with the needle.
This four-month-old boy doesn't need to tell his mother just how unimpressed he is and as he will soon discover it's one of many he'll have to endure throughout his life.
But now researchers at the University of Queensland are carrying out a trial which they say could make needle vaccinations a part of medical history.
A tiny square no bigger than a coffee bean is what they're hoping will transform the delivery of vaccines. The drug is implanted in a small piece of silicone called a nanopatch.
One of the lead researchers is Professor Mark Kendall from the University's Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.
"The patch breaches the tough outer layer of the skin, pierces through and reaches an immense population of immune cells, that's just below the surface of the skin."
Researchers here say the nanopatch targets specific cells found in a narrow layer, just beneath the skin's surface.
Professor Kendall is convinced the technology is able to insert an effective amount of vaccine, despite its small surface area. What's more, he says it apparently gets the same result with less than one hundredth of the dose used by a needle.
"We've reduced the dose of the vaccine by 100-fold compared to the needle and syringe, so the cost of savings can be immense because vaccines today can be quite expensive. But in addition to that our patch itself is quite cheap to manufacture because we borrowed techniques from the semi-conductor industry."
The cost is also kept to a minimum because the nanopatch is so easily transported. Researchers say it should also ensure the effectiveness of vaccines which can be compromised by heat, so they have to be refrigerated, making them more expensive for people in hot climates.
Professor Kendall says all this is crucial because of the soaring costs of medicine. He's convinced the patch could greatly benefit the health of people in developing countries.
"Up to 50 per cent of vaccines in Africa are thought to be not working properly because the vaccine has not been refrigerated properly as it is being transported. So we overcome that problem alone. But on top of that we've overcome vaccine shortages too so we increase the reach of the vaccine to many more people and that's a far more pertinent problem in the developing world than in the developed (world)."