Scientists have published a new research paper in the journal Nature Materials that demonstrates that through the use of a pain-free microneedle patch, a DNA Vaccine can be delivered over 100 times more effectively than a regular needle injection. Working much like a tattoo gun, the patch is capable of delivering the vaccine through several layers of skin. However, much unlike a tattoo gun, the patch is reportedly “pain-free”. What’s even more interesting about this delivery concept is that it would eliminate the need for a trained professional to administer the vaccine. The user would simply have to apply the patch themselves for about 15 minutes. After that time, the microneedles dissolve and leave behind “vaccine depots that can then present vaccine to the patient’s immune system over longer time periods” stated Peter C. DeMuth, the lead author of the paper from the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. According to the researchers, “when [the patch was] applied to viable macaque skin ex vivo, multilayer tattooing elicited 140-fold greater gene expression compared to naked DNA injection.” The paper also goes so far as to make a comparison between the patch and electroporation, stating that “in tests with mice, the researchers found that the immune response induced by the DNA-delivering film was as good as or better than that achieved with electroporation.” The claim that this method is painless is definitely what makes this method so appealing when compared to other methods such as the standard injection or electroporation. The patch would also not require refrigeration, an absolute advantage of DNA Vaccines over traditional vaccines in general, lowering the cost of transport, storage, and administration. The patch can also be customized to suit different dosing requirements through the adjustment of the polymer layers under that patch that house the DNA Vaccine and adjuvant. The microneedles implant the polymer films into the first millimeter of the skin and, through hydrophobic interactions that occur over the next days or weeks, the polymers break down, releasing their DNA payload into the surrounding cells. Future tests will be conducted on non-human primates in vivo to determine whether human trials can proceed. If this patch proves successful at generating significant immune responses, the research team is confident that this method could be applied to many diseases and easily dispensed in a pandemic type of situation.