An Australian rocket scientist has engineered a new nano-device that injects vaccines into the human body at a level just beneath the skin, using a flat patch instead of a needle. To the naked eye, the patch looks like a postage stamp. But beneath the microscope, “there are a thousand little projections invisible to the human eye,” says creator Mark Kendall. Each projection is dry-coated with the vaccine’s antigen, and when injected dynamically just below the body’s layer of dead skin cells, the antigen is released among far more immune cells than are found in muscle tissue.
What’s the Big Idea?
Kendall says the idea came to him through sketches he made during a boring conference meeting. He began by considering the skin and how drugs might be delivered to the human body using a nano-injection system. After consulting with colleagues, Kendall decided to pursue the idea and now hopes to help eradicate Polio by combatting the growing the sense of complacency with respect to vaccinations. “When we vaccinate, we are not just protecting ourselves,” said Kendall. “We’re protecting others around us.” He also points out that, after clean water, vaccines have enabled the greatest jump in human life expectancy in history.