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Rachael Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare Executive, and Medical Economics.
Imagine if you could administer an entire vaccine series in just one shot. That technology might be on the horizon, thanks to researchers at MIT.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new tool for vaccination that could allow providers to deliver multiple doses of a medication or vaccine in one shot.
The discovery, outlined in a report published in Science, uses a three-dimensional fabrication method where microparticles are filled with a drug or vaccine and then sealed. The microparticles are created using a biocompatible, FDA-approved polymer that will dissolve at specific times, allowing delivery of its contents. This delivery method could result in short bursts of medication or vaccine delivered at particular intervals, mimicking the timing of a vaccine series.
Kevin J. McHugh, PhD, a postdoctoral student working in the Langer Lab at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, told Medical Economics the technology is still in the early stages, but he envisions it to enable clinicians to deliver a full component of vaccines in a single shot.
“In the developed world, this could provide equivalent immunity levels without the need for clinicians to administer multiple painful injections to infants over the first years of their life,” McHugh said. “As a result, this could potentially reduce the number and thereby cost of healthcare visits early in life.”
The discovery could carry even greater weigh, he said, allowing millions of infants that remain under protected each year to receive a single auto-boosting dose that confers immunity without follow-up visits, which is critical for populations with poor access to healthcare. “Currently, many of these children get at least one dose of vaccine, but remain under protected because they fail to complete the multi-injection regimen,” McHugh said.
It’s too early in the research process to determine which vaccines are compatible with the technology, McHugh said, but theoretically it could work with any vaccine. Each vaccine will require formulation to stabilize the vaccine while it remains in the particle prior to release, he said.
“This is a challenging prospect for many vaccines which are typically stored frozen or refrigerated and would now need to remain stable at body temperature for months,” McHugh said. “We are currently working to stabilize several clinical and preclinical vaccines in the context of our microparticles including the Sabin inactivated polio vaccine.”
The hope is that the discovery will help in improving global vaccination rates and aid in the eradication of infectious diseases, McHugh said.