Polio BREAKTHROUGH – new vaccine patch could see an END to fatal disease

The vaccine patch fought off the poliovirus more effectively than needles and syringes, the scientists claimed.

The ‘Nanopatch’ could lead to cheap vaccines, which are easy to administer, they added.

The patch is a 1cm x 1cm silicon square, with about 20,000 tiny needles on its surface, which are invisible to the naked eye. It penetrates through the outer layer of the skin, and targets layers of skin that are rich in immune cells.

Targeting the immune system cells meant the vaccine was more efficient than an injection, the researchers said.

Its inventor, Professor Mark Kendall from the University of Queensland, said: “It targets the abundant immune cell populations in the skin's outer layers, rather than muscle, resulting in a more efficient vaccine delivery system.

"The ease of administration, coupled with dose reduction observed in this study suggests that the Nanopatch could facilitate inexpensive vaccination of inactivated poliovirus vaccines.

"Latest research on the patch by researchers at the  provided “the next step in consigning polio to history."

The study analysed the patch’s effectiveness on rats. The rodents were given 1/40th of a human dose of polio vaccine.

Polio research meant the number of cases per year has fallen by 99% since the late 1980s, the researchers said.

The university’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences Professor Paul Young said: “Polio was one of the most dreaded childhood diseases of the 20th century, resulting in limb disfigurement and irreversible paralysis in tens of millions of cases.

“This most recent study showed the Nanopatch enhanced responses to all three types of inactivated poliovirus vaccines - a necessary advancement from using the current live oral vaccine."

The study was funded by the World Health Organization, to improve the reach of life-saving vaccines to children everywhere.

To eradicate the disease, oral vaccines will need to be replaced with patch-like substitutes, the scientists claimed. 

No cases of polio have been recorded in the UK since the mid-1990s, according to NHS Choices. There were 16 recorded cases globally in 2016 - down from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988.

The infection is contracted by coming into contact with the faeces of someone that has polio. That includes food or water that has been contaminated with infected poo.

Polio symptoms include a high temperature, sore throat, headache and aching muscles. But, about 95% of people infected with polio won’t have any symptoms, and will fight off the infection without realising they were ever infected.

Around 1% of infections lead to some degree of paralysis, which can be life-threatening. Other long-term effects of the infection include deformities, muscle weakness and muscle shrinkage.

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