(From the September 2013 issue of Inside Nationwide Children's)
A research team led by Lauren Bakaletz, PhD, director, Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, has studied vaccine agents exhaustively. Meticulously. And after identifying the most promising preparation, they’ve nearly perfected the solution—the ideal combination of components for the most powerful therapeutic punch. Why? To provide children the best possible outcomes from immunization against middle ear infection, and to do it quickly.
When considering ways to deliver the vaccine, the research team wanted an alternative to injections. Dr. Bakaletz had the idea to investigate transcutaneous – or through the skin – delivery of the vaccine. First droplets were tested, then a patch. The team evaluated the effectiveness of both a wet patch and a dry patch. Taking into consideration children’s play and bath time, the researchers knew it was important to make sure that the patch would be effective when worn for only 24 hours, or less.
Treating children with this medicinal patch would allow them to return to their full potential and optimal quality of life faster. Better yet, there may be no need for them to return for treatment because the vaccine and patch provide defense against infection through the blood (systemic immunity) and directly at the site where bacteria live (mucosal immunity).
Transcutaneous vaccine delivery has the potential to not only benefit our patients, but also could have a global impact. Around the world, the patch could be made available to children with limited or even no access to healthcare.
“The potential for a needle-free immunization strategy is incredible and we truly hope that our work can facilitate vaccine delivery to the children that need it the most,” says Laura Novotny, research program manager for the Bakaletz lab. “To move beyond this pre-clinical model to the clinic—that is the best overall outcome we can hope for.”