Engineering Polymeric Microdevices for Global Health
Vaccination is both extremely effective and cost-effective, yet poor healthcare infrastructure in the developing world presents a major challenge to global vaccine coverage. As a result, vaccine-preventable diseases cause 1.5 million deaths each year, predominantly in low-resource settings. Two key barriers to global vaccination are poor patient access and the inability to maintain accurate vaccination records. Because vaccines generally require multiple doses over the course of months, accessing infants in rural areas several times within their first year of life becomes a major logistical burden. To greatly reduce this burden, we have developed a microparticle platform that mimics the kinetics of traditional multi-injection vaccination schedules to confer immunity after only a single injection. By varying the properties of the polymeric shell such as molecular weight, end group, and copolymer ratio, we can modulate release timing from as little as one week to greater than six months. When loaded with antigen, we have shown that a single injection of these microparticles can induce similar or superior immune responses compared to multiple injections of soluble antigen. To address the challenge of poor vaccination record keeping, which can lead to missed vaccination opportunities, we have developed a microneedle patch that delivers near infrared microparticles into the dermis. These particles can be co-delivered with a vaccine to provide an “on-patient” vaccination record that is invisible to the naked eye, but easily detected using a smartphone for more than 5 years. Therefore, when the next vaccination campaign cycle takes place, medical professionals will be able to accurately determine which vaccines have been applied and which are still needed. Using these strategies, we hope to provide low-cost solutions that reduce vaccine-preventable deaths and aid in infectious disease eradication efforts.
- 10:30 Refreshments
- 10:45–12:00 Talk