BBC Future

Future Thinking

The vaccine patch that makes painful jabs obsolete

Getting immunised against life-threatening diseases often means being pricked with a needle – even though it’s not the best method. Mark Kendall’s plan? A nanopatch that fires vaccines into the skin.

Vaccines have allowed humanity to deal with some of nature’s worst infectious diseases – letting our immune system deal with a weakened version of a disease so it learns how to fight the real thing in the future.

But since their introduction in the 1700s the technology behind administering really hasn’t changed that much – the painful jab with a needle. The problem is, it’s not really the most effective way of getting to our immune system.

There are far more immune cells sitting just under our skin. Mark Kendall, an Australian rocket scientist who’s since become an expert on the immunology of the skin, has come up with an idea: target the part of the body with the most immune cells with a nanopatch coasted with vaccine. Here, he tells BBC Future how it might work.

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