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4 ways to vaccinate without needles

Posting in Technology

From laser beams and ultrasound waves to swallowable devices and wireless blood tests, researchers have always been looking for ways to minimize the use of needles -- or at least to lessen the pain of the prick.

But the needle-syringe combo is notoriously challenging. Wired explains:

Vials need to be kept cool, sharps must be safely disposed of and never reused, and half-full vials get thrown out to avoid contamination.

Still, there’s got to be a less painful way to give these potentially life-saving shots to children. Here are four budding high-tech, needle-free immunizations compiled by Wired.

1. Stratis, a jet injector from PharmaJet

Intense pressure in a single-use syringe propels a high-velocity stream of liquid. The vaccine goes straight into the muscle or under this skin. No fear of vial contamination; sharps disposal isn’t necessary. This could be available in time for your next flu shot at the local pharmacy.

2. Nanopatch, a little pad of microneedles from Vaxxas

Traditional vaccines don’t always trigger a sufficient immune response. The microscopic projections on this patch deliver meds directly into skin that’s rich in immune cells. Doesn’t need refrigeration. Trials in primates and pigs are underway.

3. Quick-dissolving film that’s taken orally, from Aridis Pharmaceuticals

This film for rotavirus -- which causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines -- dissolves on your tongue like a Listerine fresh strip. Will remain stable for six months at high temps (up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit). At least 200 can fit in the same space needed for a syringe holding the same dose. In preclinical trials.

4. PuffHaler, powder that’s inhaled, from Aktiv-Dry

Once inhaled, this dry-powder measles vaccine targets the respiratory system (like the virus itself). Bundled in blister packs, it’s transportable and stable for six months without refrigeration. A human trial recently wrapped up in India.

And did you know? Researchers have also looked to porcupine quills and mosquito stingers for less painful jabs.

[Wired]

Image: Centers for Disease Control Public Health Image Library

— By on November 14, 2013, 7:29 PM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure