Injections for vaccinations, while saving the lives of millions of people from common sicknesses and diseases, are still pretty painful; particularly for younger children who are most at risk of diseases. That might change within the next ten years, thanks to researchers in Dorian Liepmann’s lab at the University of California, Berkeley, who’ve developed the MucoJet. The creation is a needle-free, pill-sized, 3D-printed device that shoots a stream of vaccine into the tissue of the cheek, making vaccinations practically painless.
How does the MucoJet work? First, you’ll activate the MucoJet by squeezing the device together to create a reaction and increase pressure inside the capsule. Second, you’d hold the device on the inside of your cheek for roughly ten seconds, resulting with that pressure breaking a membrane and shooting a concentrated stream of vaccine through a small nozzle. That’s pretty much it. So far, the researchers have demonstrated not only a proof-of-concept, but have also successfully delivered vaccine-size molecules to cells in the mouths of animals. The research teams says that future research will involve testing the MucoJet on monkeys, pigs, and other larger animals.
Kiana Aran, a professor of mechanical and bioengineering who helped develop the MucoJet stated:
“The majority of modern vaccines are injected intramuscularly or subcutaneously, although the majority of pathogens actually access the body via the mucosal surfaces.”
Aran also noted about the vaccines that can be administered through the mucosal surfaces (i.e., the oral polio and rotavirus vaccine), however they have limited safety and utility since they contain live viral components. The research team feels that the MucoJet can open the door to future designs of safer and more effective mucosal vaccines. Just last week, a paper describing the device was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine (you know, should you WANT to give it a read; you’ll want to…).