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Medicine Science

Polymer Patches May Enable Effective DNA Vaccines 83

Zothecula writes "Taking a two-month-old in for vaccination shots and watching them get stuck with six needles in rapid succession can be painful for child and parent alike. If the work of an MIT team of researchers pans out, those needles may be thing of the past thanks to a new dissolvable polymer film that allows the vaccination needle to be replaced with a patch. This development will not only make vaccinations less harrowing, but also allow for developing and delivering vaccines for diseases too dangerous for conventional techniques." The patch was designed with delivering DNA-based vaccines in mind. Thus far efforts to use DNA to generate more robust and safe vaccines has failed thanks to the immune system destroying them; the polymer film embeds itself in your skin and slowly dissolves, protecting the DNA in the process.
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Polymer Patches May Enable Effective DNA Vaccines

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  • injections in succession?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      To make sure they get autism, of course!
      • It makes it easier to ensure only the pre-selected kids get Autism. Most kids get 5 shots and a dummy injection. The test subjects get a 6th shot.

    • 6 different serums that are required to carry the various vaccines.

      You can't just mix them up in a slurry, because not everyone can (or wants) to get them all.

      For example, I cannot take the MMR vaccine. (lucky for you all, I'm a carrier)

      • I think that the point of GP's question is, why are they getting SIX shots all AT ONCE?

        The only place I ever got that many shots all on the same day, was in boot camp. My children never got stuck that many times in one day. My memory isn't perfect, but I'm pretty sure that none of my sons got more than three injections on the same day.

        Some of those required vaccinations CANNOT be administered within several days of each other. Possibly even weeks apart.

        My boys are all grown now, it's been about 20 years

        • Various combinations of being slightly behind on the child's immunization schedule and / or some parental choices ('we could do this now or next month') can land you in the six shot category although that's a bit of an edge case - four is more likely.

          If you're kids are young adults now, the entire vaccine landscape has changed (aside from the needles).

      • That just explains why you cannot ship one single MMR/ChickenPox/Tetanus slurry. It doesn't explain why the doctor cannot combine them on an individual basis.
    • by Myopic ( 18616 ) *

      Huh. That's an odd question. Isn't the answer, obviously, because that is the number required to provide the most reasonable level of protection? We employ a huge number of very smart people who work very hard to figure out how best to administer vaccines. When all those smart folks work together, a regimen of six shots is what they come up with for babies.

      My own son just had his first shots a couple weeks ago. He cried; it was no big deal. I don't understand the hoopla about it.

      The six shots contain, what,

      • by dmr001 ( 103373 )
        As time goes by, we've come up with more vaccines. See the current CDC vaccination schedule ( Many vaccines arrive in one syringe now (like combined diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus-polio-H flu in Pentacel). Some folks miss a bunch of appointments and need to get caught up, in which case under rare circumstances I've been known to give up to 6 at once. In routine visits, though, it's usually 4 at the 2 month visit, 3 at the 4 month visit, etc. Recommendations vary somewha
  • While I believe this is a good thing for vaccinations, I know it will be abused.

    If all it takes to inject someone with a vaccine is a thin dis-solvable layer, like that of a temporary tattoo, this will surely be abused by people.

    Instead of applying a vaccine, one could apply a deadly virus. The technology could also be used do deliver narcotics where they would no longer require hypodermic needles. You'd get a dime bag of patches.

    How easy would it be to make a Roofie patch. You don't have to watch your d

    • Except this is for DNA vaccines, roofies aren't DNA, and viruses are more than just DNA. Patches have been out for medicines for decades. I'm pretty sure the threat from this particular variant is actually fairly minimal - though it depends on how much beyond DNA the patch can deliver. If it is just DNA, the risk is probably negligible for misuse.

    • Abused how exactly? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @12:40PM (#42738621)

      Honestly I don't see a problem

      You can be easily infected by deadly viruses via any number of methods, many of which you'd never notice. A scratch with a contaminated thumbtack would be enough for most nasty viruses.

      If narcotic delivery were possible and caught on it would be a big win for everyone - the addicts wouldn't be tempted to reuse needles, and the rest of us wouldn't have to worry about used needles being improperly disposed of.

      As for a roofie patch, roofies are dangerous because they can be quickly and covertly slipped into a drink, whereas you're much more likely to notice someone putting a patch on you - even if it takes you a few minutes to notice that someone has put a sticker on you it'll still be a lot more obvious and you'll have a window of opportunity to get help before the microneedles dissolve.

      • I dissolve my mutated viruses in a DMSO and aloe vera blend, then use a mister to apply it at music festivals.

        (waits for DHS to kick the door down)

      • If narcotic delivery were possible and caught on it would be a big win for everyone - the addicts wouldn't be tempted to reuse needles, and the rest of us wouldn't have to worry about used needles being improperly disposed of.

        Morphine and fentanyl patches have been around for years.
        The problem is that addicts would rather eat/snort/inject the contents instead of using them as intended (time released).
        I can't imagine that junkies couldn't figure out how to abuse this new polymer patch in the same way.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by logjon ( 1411219 )

      While I believe this is a good thing for evolution, I know it will be abused.

      If all it takes to pick up an object with a limb is an opposable thumb, this will surely be abused by people.

      Instead of picking up a banana, one could pick up a deadly rock. The appendage could also be used to deliver a choke where they would no longer require both limbs. You'd get grappling.

      How easy would it be to make a pointy stick. You don't have to get as close to people to strike any more just don't wear thin hide.

    • First of all, drug delivery might be different from vaccine delivery. Sub-dermal injection of a substance might cause different effects than putting the substance in a drink. It might not even have any effect at all.

      Secondly, even if there was an effect, there's the question of dosage. How much of Drug X can you cram into one of these patches? It'd be no good as a delivery mechanism if the dosage isn't enough to make the patch-wearer feel any difference. If the patch-wearer has to slap on a dozen patch

    • Sounds like something out of "Rise of the Dragon", and old PC game back in the mid to late 80s.

  • It had better stay on well, AND be placed between the shoulder blades where kids can't reach it.

    Even a two-month old will try to peel off a band-aid.

    • They only left it on for 15 minutes. How that translates, who knows - small mammals respond better to DNA vaccines than primates do.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @12:22PM (#42738403) Homepage Journal

    I'm actually 99% convinced that the reason people so readily believe vaccines cause terrible things is because the experience of holding an infant's hand while she receives their shots is so traumatizing people are looking for any excuse to not do it.

    • by Myopic ( 18616 ) *

      Really? I just went through it with my firstborn. It was nothing. He cried, big whoop, he cries all the time.

      If you are right then that is a big indictment of modern parents.

      • With infants, it is easy. They don't know enough to resist. By the time they start crying, it is already over.

        With older kids, it can be harder. Especially with my older son who has anxiety issues. Needles and blood are two of his triggers. Even being told that they are about makes him flip out to a degree that he can't be reasoned with. (He knows how important vaccinations are, but when his anxiety acts up reason leaves the building.) And he's nine so forcing him into the room and holding him down

        • by Myopic ( 18616 ) *

          Fair point. The OP specifically said "infant" but I see your point about older children. I'll let you know how my son fares nine years from now.

        • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
          He just doesn't have any context. When I was 12, I had a baby tooth extracted by an air force dentist. Apparently the root had wrapped around the adult tooth behind it. No matter how much novacaine he injected into my head, I still felt what he was doing. And that fucker didn't want to come out. I lost track of time, but it was the worst pain I have ever experienced. If I had a choice between that again or a bullet to the head, I'd take the bullet. After that, shots, not so bad.

          A couple years back I had a

          • So... your solution for needle anxiety is to tie them down beforehand and apply a bit of torture? Inducing medical problems would be inefficient when we invented so many ways to cause pain while inflicting minimal damage after all.

            • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
              Oh no! Life tortures you quite enough. Alas, most of your shot-receiving takes place during that time when you don't yet know what real pain is. For most of us, anyway. I would just offer the advice "Enjoy the time when getting a shot is all it takes to make you cry. Hopefully there aren't worse things in your future."
              • Well, I do agree, but I also don't think telling a child "there's worse thing in life" is going to help. Most youngins don't have the knowledge or experience to really understand I think. And of course, if you're dealing with a genuine phobia there's a good chance they won't face anything worse in life.

      • Either your baby took it very well, or he or she is abnormally hysterical all the time and you should probably see a doctor. Or there's a real empathy problem on your part - I hope that's not the case.

        My baby does not cry all the time. When she does, there's a world of difference between the "I'm hungry/sleepy/etc" cry, and the "I'm in abnormal pain" cry. The latter happens extremely rarely, is accompanied by real tears, by the baby going red, and with her being virtually inconsolable. One of the very, v

    • If watching your kid get a couple of shots is major league psychic problems for you, I must congratulate you on negotiating the horrors of the modern world with such alacrity and skill.

      So far.

      Just wait until they get a driver's license. You'll be drooling in a corner.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe we should make parents hold their infant sons' hands while they're tearing off the foreskin. And yes, it's not just a cut. Imagine tearing off a fingernail. The foreskin isn't even supposed to be retractable until about 12 months at the earliest. There are more things we do to screw up our kids than protecting them from polio.

      What's more, to respond partially to another post, I've read that male infants whose genitals have been mutilated are much more likely to exhibit an increased negative/pain r

    • Kids cry hard all the time. Last night, my kid screamed his head off far worse than when he had his shots, and it was because he had a nightmare. I'd say the connection it comes down to three different illogical thought processes:

      1. Autism's first signs often appear around the time that the kid is supposed to get another round of shots. The fact that correlation is not causation doesn't register with illogical people.

      2. Celebrities somehow are given more voice and credibility than, you know, docto
  • Life is pain. My five-year-old doesn't even cry anymore when she gets her shots -- she is brave as hell -- and when we are done, we go get ice cream. I can see this as good for preventing infection at the site of the vaccination, but shots aren't that bad once you get used to them.
    • by concealment ( 2447304 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @12:30PM (#42738487) Homepage Journal

      My kids only eat what they can kill. Since we live in the city, it's tough on them (and on the neighborhood pigeons), but they're going to true Nietzschean superpeople when I'm done with them!

    • There's no reason for them to hurt.

      Small gauge needle, topical anesthetic if desired, and good technique.

      • If dentist shots are the same as normal shots, I can attest that if the shot giver tries to push too hard and give the shot too fast, it hurts like HELL. Until I changed from my old dentist to my new one, I just figured shots in the gum were the MOST intense pain I'd ever feel... even if short-lived (30 seconds felt like an hour, but you know). Turns out, next dentist asked if it hurt, I said yes, he slowed down... holy crap no pain?!?!?!?! At least now I can take a hot poker to the eye and barely flinch. H

        • Well, here's why it works: They put a topical anesthetic down to stop the needle from hurting. When the Novocain is injected in, if done slowly, the "numb" front will exceed the tissue separation. Meaning you no longer feel the tissue being damaged by the injection.

          If you rush, it rips the tissues before the local nerves serving it are numbed.

    • I work in healthcare, as a result, I've had almost as many shots as people in the army get. I've started an IV on myself multiple times, and given myself shots. In short, I'm about as used to having needles in me as you can get.

      And you know what? Tetanus shots hurt like a bastard.
      • And you know what? Tetanus shots hurt like a bastard.

        Take the little plastic cap off the needle first.

      • I was wondering something, actually: last year I had a tetanus shot (well, a diphteria-tetanus-poliomyelitis shot), and it was intramuscular, not intraveinous (my shoulder ended up a bit sensitive for a few days). So I'm a bit puzzled by people systematically speaking of IV when it comes to vaccination.
        • Personally, I blame IV drug users for that particular misconception. They're almost the only people who establish venous access to deliver a single bolus, and with way more drug users than healthcare personnel using needles in media, people associate needles with IV.

          In healthcare, or rather in modern, first world healthcare, when delivering a single drug, it will usually be IM, occasionally sub-cutaneous, and every once in a great while subdermal or intradermal.

          If I'm giving a med that has to be deliv
    • I think they may be using smaller gauge needles nowadays. Last time I had a flu shot, the needle was so fine I didn't even feel the needle go in.

      Though that could be because I'm used to the huge gauge needles used when I donate blood.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The last few years, the flu shot has been available in intradermal needles which requires a smaller needle which doesn't go as deep. Most other shots (such as Tdap, which hurts like a bitch) need to be injected into the muscle.

    • Life is pain. My five-year-old doesn't even cry anymore when she gets her shots -- she is brave as hell -- and when we are done, we go get ice cream.

      You may think you're making her tough, but more likely you're teaching her to reward herself with ice cream and other unhealthy foods when she is feeling bad. Eating disorders often have their roots in how they were trained to think about food as a child.

  • Why not transparent aluminum hypo-sprays?
    • Because jet injectors (which actually predate TOS) aren't nearly as neat as Star Trek portrays. Blowback and cross-contamination is a major concern. You basically need a new tip for each injection, rather than just a single one to use forever.

      • by j-pimp ( 177072 )

        Because jet injectors (which actually predate TOS) aren't nearly as neat as Star Trek portrays. Blowback and cross-contamination is a major concern. You basically need a new tip for each injection, rather than just a single one to use forever.

        I thought that except for diabetics self administering needles, most of the time needles were used once.

        • Yes, but swapping the tip on the injector is more annoying than just using an entire new (and often preloaded) syringe.

          Jet injectors also require more extensive cleaning of the injection site (So you aren't forcing random particulate and germs through the skin), unlike as portrayed on TV.

  • by sribe ( 304414 )

    I'm sure the polymer causes autism. I just know it.

  • With a shot, the pediatrician/nurse administers the shot and it's done. Anti-vax nuts can opt out, but at least there's a record of them having opted out in the child's medical history. With this patch, it sounds really easy for the anti-vax parent to go get it done to avoid suspicion/confrontation, then rip it off their kid as soon as they leave the doctor's office, resulting in a child whose medical history says they had a vaccine, but who never really got one.
    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @01:21PM (#42739151) Homepage

      From the article: “You just apply the patch for a few minutes, take it off and it leaves behind these thin polymer films embedded in the skin”

      This doesn't sound like a band-aid that you'd rip off as soon as you left the doctor's office. Instead, you'd have the patch applied, wait a few minutes, and then the doctor would take it off and you'd be done. The polymer film would be embedded in your skin and nearly impossible to remove. (At least not without removing a good chunk of the skin with the polymer.)

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @01:47PM (#42739553) Homepage

    This could really help third world countries. Right now, vaccines (for the most part) need refrigeration so delivering them to remote areas can be a problem. If these skin patch vaccines don't need refrigeration, it will be easier to transport them. Even if they need to be kept cool, it should be easier to keep a hundred skin patches cold than keeping a hundred needles cold. (Plus the benefit of no used needles to dispose of while in the middle of nowhere.)

    Finally, the medical expertise you'd need to apply these is likely minimal. Slap a patch on, wait a few minutes, take the patch off. Done. No need to know just how to safely inject the vaccine into the person.

    This could really revolutionize vaccines in third world countries which, in turn, could drastically improve their quality of life.

  • Can they develop a bigger patch to entirely cover the mouth of Jenny McCarthy? Permanently?
  • FTA: There are two basic kinds of vaccines. The first uses attenuated viruses. This common and relatively simple method uses “dead” or inactive viruses. As far as the body is concerned, it’s the proteins that encase the virus that are important, not whether or not the virus is “alive.” Wrong! Attenuated viruses are not "dead." They have been modified so as to cause much less-severe disease than the wild-type, but are still infectious. You might want to read the actual pap
  • Watching your child die from a horrible, preventable disease.

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