The Flu Shot of the Future

FRESNO, Calif.

From medicine, to chicken soup, 61-year-old Linda Little is ready for a fight. Last winter, the flu hit home.

"It was the worst week of my life, beginning with the aches and pains, you know, you don't want to be in pain," Linda Little, told Action News.

But preventing the flu can be a pain, too.

"People don't like this. People don't like the needle," Dimitrios Koutsonanos, M.D., a post-doctoral research fellow at Emory University School of Medicine, explained.

Researchers at Emory University and Georgia Tech may have found a better way, dozens ofmicroscopic needles coated or filled with vaccine, then placed on a patch like a band-aid.

"They penetrate the skin. You do not feel any pain, and the vaccine is being delivered that way," Dr. Koutsonanos said.

For the vaccine to kick in, you wear the micro-needle patch for less than 10 minutes. In a new study, it was as effective as a shot, providing even better protection.

"They are lasting longer than the intramuscular, the systemic conventional vaccination," Ioanna Skountzou, Ph.D., an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory University School of Medicine said.

But how will you respond? A new blood test developed at Emory Vaccine Center measures changes in blood cells in the first days after a flu shot and can predict whether the vaccination will actually work.

"Essentially, we would know, within say a week, whether this person will achieve a certain level of protection that would be necessary for protection," Bali Pulendran, Ph.D., a professor of pathology at Emory Yerkes Research Center, said.

Changing the way we fight the flu, one vaccination at a time.

The micro-needle patches and the vaccination efficacy test are still experimental, but researchers believe they could be available to the public within the next five years.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Dimitrios G. Koutsonanos, M.D.
Emory University School of Medicine

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