Microneedle Technology for Giving Vaccines Proves Effective

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. efficacy / ˈɛf ɪ kə si / (n) – ability to produce a desired result

    Drinking alcohol can reduce the efficacy of a medicine.

  2. minuscule / ˈmɪn əˌskyul / (adj) – very small or tiny

    There are minuscule particles in the air that are too small to be seen.

  3. penetrate / ˈpɛn ɪˌtreɪt / (v) – to pass through

    Some chemicals can penetrate the skin.

  4. administer / ædˈmɪn ə stər / (v) – to give medicine or treatment to someone

    The doctor administered anesthesia before the surgery.

  5. induce / ɪnˈdus / (v) – to cause something to happen

    The medicine can induce sleep.


Read the text below.

Receiving flu shots may now become less painful and more convenient, thanks to microneedle skin patches.

A recent study tested microneedle skin patches for their efficacy and safety. A microneedle patch looks like an adhesive bandage with 100 minuscule needles. Vaccines or other drugs are delivered through the patch by pressing it onto one’s arm and waiting a few minutes until the microneedles penetrate the skin.

According to Dr. Nadine Rouphael [roo-FA-el], lead author of the study, clinical trial results showed that the microneedle patches were as effective as traditional injections for administering vaccines.

During the trial, some volunteers received vaccines via traditional injection, while others received a skin patch. The results showed that both methods induced similar immune responses in the body.

Both groups also experienced similar side effects, but people who used the patch experienced more itching and redness where the patch was applied. However, patch users reported that the patches were less painful compared to traditional injections.

A professor of public health from Columbia University who was not involved in the study believes that the patches will revolutionize immunization because they are easier and faster to use.

In addition to skin patches, there have also been other attempts to revolutionize immunization using microneedles. One of these is the microneedle pill, or mPill, which was developed by MIT graduate student Carl Schoellhammer [SHOHL-ham-uhr].

The mPill is a capsule covered with microneedles and coated in pH responsive coating. When swallowed, the coating dissolves, and the microneedles inject drugs directly into the stomach lining. Schoellhammer describes mPills as injections from the inside, and is also meant to eliminate the pain of injections.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, should the microneedle skin patches and the mPill fully replace traditional injections? Why or why not?
• How can these two innovations improve the way we fight infectious diseases?

Discussion B

• Do you think infectious diseases (e.g. flu, ebola, etc.) are managed well in your country? Why or why not?
• How can the public be convinced to regularly have immunization (e.g. flu shots) against infectious diseases? Discuss.