Professor Mark Kendall has delivered a most engaging TED talk where he describes the history of needles and the latest development in his research. With improved immune responses to the nanopatch, vaccines that were previously too expensive to administer in the developing world can now be available at a hundredth of the dose to those in particular need. This same logic applies to vaccine candidates that are currently too weak to be effective. Examples include vaccines currently under development against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Improved immune responses with the nanopatch delivery method allows for a better way to tackle these diseases.
Another advantage of the nanopatch delivery method is it eliminates the need for the "cold chain" - that is the need for current liquid preparation vaccines to be refrigerated from the point of manufacture to the point of administration. This cold chain has to be maintained throughout the vaccines' journey and is a key limitation in the developing world, where temperatures are high and fridges are few. Up to 50% of vaccines in Africa are ineffective due to failure of the cold chain. With the nanopatch this requirement is removed as the vaccine is a dry preparation.
Currently there are field trials of the HPV vaccine (cervical cancer vaccine) in Papua New Guinea. This trial tests two of the limitations of current vaccines - the cold chain and the prohibitive cost. I will be following the results with interest.
Not to mention - no more needle-phobia!