3D Printed Vaccine Patch

Joseph DeSimone, PhD

September 24, 2021

The Department of Radiology is pleased to announce that scientists from DeSimone Research Group and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have teamed up to develop a novel, 3D-printed microneedle vaccine that achieves an immune response 50X greater than vaccine delivered under the skin, and 10X greater than vaccine delivered into an arm muscle. The approach has potential vast implications for dose sparing, rapid global vaccine distribution, possible cold chain elimination, and facile vaccine administration (including self-administration) without the need for hypodermic needles.

The researchers were able to 3D print microneedles with complex geometries not possible to make through other fabrication techniques. These unique geometries enabled the formulation of vaccines in a solid state as opposed to the common use of liquid formulations. Solid state microneedle vaccines can be formulated and stored in a dried form, eliminating the need for vaccine reconstitution, and potentially reducing or eliminating the cold supply chain.

“One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic is that innovation in science and technology can make or break a global response,” said Joseph DeSimone, senior author of this study. “Thankfully, we had biotech and healthcare workers pushing the envelope for all of us. In developing this technology, we hope to set the foundation for even more rapid global deployment of vaccines, at lower doses, in a pain- and anxiety-free manner, providing greater access to vaccines for all.“

The team’s research article “Transdermal vaccination via 3D-printed microneedles induces potent humoral and cellular immunity” can be read in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Additional coverage by UNC.