Tiny, Sugar Pin Cushions Are The Sweetest Way To Get Vaccinated

Tiny, Sugar Pin Cushions Are The Sweetest Way To Get Vaccinated


Even if it means protection from dangerous, even fatal diseases, having a needle jabbed into your skin and liquid sickness squirted into your flesh is no fun for anyone. There are other needleless injection solutions out there, but a new microneedle array made completely out of dried sugar promises to make vaccination not only painless, but dirt cheap.

As you might expect, microneedle arrays administer vaccinations with a whole bunch of tiny needles that are sufficient to get stuff through the skin, but not big enough to hurt. It’s not exactly a new technology; FujiFilm came up with one last year. But this all-sugar model developed by researchers at King’s College London with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a whole bunch of benefits in addition to the painless part.

The sugar arrays can have a dried version of a vaccine built right in, which makes extended storage a breeze, and since they’re disposable, there’s no worry about contamination from reused needles. On top of all that, sugar is pretty dang cheap, so with just the right injection-mold, you can churn these suckers out for next to nothing. And if that wasn’t enough, it turns out that introduction through the upper layers of skin even sends out a call to specialised cells that kick your body’s immune system in to high-gear, making this type of vaccination super fast-acting.


So far, microneedle arrays — sugar and non-sugar alike — are undergoing animal testing, but so far, all signs point to “awesome”. Hopefully it won’t be long before this sweet, pain-free prick hits the world at large. [King’s College London via Geek.com]