How Technology Is Helping Develop No-Pain Vaccines

The brightest minds are working to create quicker, easier, and possibly more effective vaccine treatments.

medical needle feather
Marco Goran Romano for Reader’s Digest
Well aware of needle-induced anxiety, tech innovators around the globe are taking the sting out of vaccinations. Doctors and aid workers could someday use these advances to help patients in need. They’ll not only hurt less, but they’ll also be easier to administer.

A Stick-On Patch
Researchers at the Vaxxas company have developed a wee “nanopatch” that aims to deliver an effective vaccine dose better than a traditional shot can. The patch is one square centimeter in size and home to about 20,000 tiny needles. These “microprojections” deliver a vaccine and amplify its effectiveness.

Jet Fluid
Scientists at PATH, a global nonprofit focused on health innovations, have developed a method to inject a vaccine into a patient’s arm via a high-pressure fluid. The hope is that these “jet injectors” can be taken to developing countries, where they will present an easier (and safer) way for health workers to administer doses to children.

Doses “On-Demand”
Using nanoparticles, doctors in the future may have the ability to mix vaccines immediately after noticing an outbreak—no more worrying about fragile containers that need to be refrigerated. Researchers at the University of Washington and Emory University announced the new technique earlier this year and say it has shown promise in lab mice. Once human-ready, the new vaccines will be applied via pain-free bandages.

An Edible Alternative
Taking a cue from breath-freshening strips, Aridis Pharmaceuticals developed a way to combat the rotavirus, which claims scores of young lives every year: a film that melts in the mouth—an ideal way to administer a vaccine to babies.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest