Patients could one day self-administer vaccines using a needleless, pill-sized technology that jet-releases a stream of vaccine inside the mouth, according to a proof-of-concept study conducted at UC Berkeley.
The study did not test vaccine delivery in people, but demonstrated that the technology, called MucoJet, is capable of delivering vaccine-sized molecules to immune cells in the mouths of animals. The technology is a step toward improved oral vaccine delivery, which holds the promise of building immunity in the mouth’s buccal region of cells, where many infections enter the body. When patients hold the MucoJet against the inside of their cheek, the device releases a jet stream that directly targets the buccal region. This region is rich in immune cells but underutilized in immunology because of the challenge of efficiently penetrating the thick mucosal layer in this part of the oral cavity with existing technologies, such as the oral spray often used for influenza vaccination.
In laboratory and animal experiments, the research team showed that the MucoJet can deliver a high-pressure stream of liquid and immune system-triggering molecules that penetrate the mucosal layer to stimulate an immune response in the buccal region. The jet is pressurized, but not uncomfortably so, and would remove the sting of needles.
“The jet is similar in pressure to a water pick that dentists use,” said Kiana Aran, who developed the technology while a postdoctoral scholar at Berkeley in the labs of Dorian Liepmann, a professor of mechanical and bioengineering, and Niren Murthy, a professor of bioengineering. Aran is now an assistant professor at the Keck Graduate Institute of Claremont University.
The portable technology, designed to be self-administered, stores vaccines in powder form and could one day enable vaccine delivery to remote locations, but years of further study are needed before the device would be commercially available.
Source: UC Berkeley