Microneedle patches for vaccination in developing countries
Millions of people die of infectious diseases each year, mostly in developing countries, which could largely be prevented by the use of vaccines. While immunization rates have risen since the introduction of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), there remain major challenges to more effective vaccination in developing countries. As a possible solution, microneedle patches containing an array of micron-sized needles on an adhesive backing have been developed to be used for vaccine delivery to the skin. These microneedle patches can be easily and painlessly applied by pressing against the skin and, in some designs, do not leave behind sharps waste. The patches are single-dose, do not require reconstitution, are easy to administer, have reduced size to simplify storage, transportation and waste disposal, and offer the possibility of improved vaccine immunogenicity, dose sparing and thermostability. This review summarizes vaccination challenges in developing countries and discusses advantages that microneedle patches offer for vaccination to address these challenges. We conclude that microneedle patches offer a powerful new technology that can enable more effective vaccination in developing countries.