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Published on : Sep 18, 2017

Vaccines have become a major healthcare concern in the modern world, with their undeniable utility leading to steady advancement in order to make vaccines more efficacious and efficient. Vaccine delivery systems have also been developed to an unimaginable degree, with the conventional image of a child crying before a huge syringe set to be soon banished. MIT engineers have created a device that could be used to deliver different vaccines to the same individual at different times without the need for repeat injections. This is a method that could revolutionize the vaccine industry.

The MIT engineers produced microscopic coffee cup-like structures out of PLGA. PLGA is already used in several human applications due to its easy biocompatibility: it is commonly used in implants and prosthetics. The cups were filled with a custom-designed dispensation system and then sealed with heat to prevent leakage. The lid and application of heat turned the coffee sups into a tightly sealed structure. Since PLGA can be designed to break apart within the body at different rates depending on the composition of its molecules, these coffee cups could be used to deliver different vaccines at different times. The system was tested on mice, with coffee cups designed to last 9, 20, and 41 days. The experiment was a success on the small scale, with the containers proving to be leak-proof and reliable in their breakdown.

Though the system needs further development to make it economically viable and successful in human bodies, the method could prove to be a major step forward for the vaccines sector. Developing economies, in particular, could make use of this system, as due to the infrequent availability of medical infrastructure in many emerging countries, vaccine availability can be a concern and repeat visits may not be possible.