Professor Mark Kendall is planning to dispatch the 160-year-old needle and syringe to history. He’s invented a new vaccine technology that’s painless, uses a fraction of the dose, puts the vaccine just under the skin, and doesn’t require a fridge.
The Nanopatch is a 1 cm square piece of silicon with 20,000 microscopic needles engineered on one side. Coat the needles with dry vaccine, push it gently but firmly against the skin, and the vaccine is delivered just under the outer layer of skin.
It’s a technology he invented in response to a call from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeking ideas for delivery of vaccines in developing countries—where it’s a challenge to keep conventional wet vaccines cold to the point of delivery.
Gene therapy clinical trials are underway to treat one of the leading causes of blindness in the developed world.
The treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (more advanced than dry macular degeneration) will hopefully be available to patients within three years, says the team at the Lions Eye Institute in Western Australia.
They’re using a modified virus to carry a gene into the cells at the back of the eye. The delivered gene encourages these cells to continuously secrete medication to treat the problem.
Fifty million children in the world’s poorest countries will be vaccinated against the deadly rotavirus by 2015, thanks to the breakthrough work of a quiet Melbourne researcher.
Ruth Bishop’s rotavirus discovery led to the development of the vaccine currently being rolled out by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation—and to her declaration as 2013 CSL Florey Medal winner.
Each year, around half a million children die from rotavirus infection and the acute gastroenteritis it causes.