Hate Needles? Future Vaccines Could be Delivered by a Gentle Puff of Air

Nobody likes needles, but they’re necessary for delivering vaccines and medications into the body. What if those could be puffed through the skin instead, with just a little pressure — like being hit in the arm with a foam toy? Today, scientists report steps toward making that a reality. Using powdered vaccines that don’t require refrigeration and a system driven by compressed gas, their device could easily deliver therapeutics against cancer and other diseases in a painless and less fear-inducing way. The medical invention is called MOF-Jets — metal-organic framework — that are porous, crystalline structures that act like molecular “cages” to encapsulate a wide variety of materials. The team is now using this method to deliver chemotherapeutics as a potential treatment for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. They say that because the MOF-Jets can disperse material over a wide area, they could distribute a cancer therapeutic into a melanoma more evenly than with a needle, which is the current delivery method. Research is still ongoing, but the researchers believe the adaptability of their MOF-Jets could allow a wide number of applications, from veterinary medicine to agriculture, or someday even human vaccinations or treatments.