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This Biotech Discovery Means You'll Never Need a Painful Flu Shot Again

Illustration for article titled This Biotech Discovery Means Youll Never Need a Painful Flu Shot Again

The worst part about getting vaccinated is the shot. I don’t care how much of a badass you are, it’s still painful and annoying. But now a group of researchers in Japan have tested a new “dissolving needle” that is basically a painless patch that you stick to your arm. And it works.

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Below, you can see the dissolving needle technology, called MicroHyala, before and after delivering its vaccine payload. At first all the needles are sticking straight up (remember, this is highly magnified), and by the end of the “injection,” the patch is completely smooth. The needles dissolve when they’re exposed to the water in your skin cells, and you’re vaccinated without any pain at all. The team found that when they used the MicroHyala to deliver flu vaccine, it was just as effective as using needles.

Illustration for article titled This Biotech Discovery Means Youll Never Need a Painful Flu Shot Again
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This isn’t one of those far-off technologies that might come one day in the next decade. Doctors have already been testing the vaccine patch on humans, and the results are great — it leaves a little red mark for a few days, and then completely disappears. Plus, it can be administered without any training. Osaka University biotechnologist Shinsaku Nakagawa, one of the authors of the study, said in a statement that this will make the MicroHyala “particularly effective in supporting vaccination in developing countries.”

That’s true, but it will also make it far easier for all of us to get shots, at any age. Here’s to a future of pain-free vaccinations.

[read the full scientific paper at Biomaterials]


Contact the author at annalee@gizmodo.com.
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DISCUSSION

The worst part about getting vaccinated is the shot.

The only reason this is true is the piss-poor quality of needles. Those of us who suffered from allergies severe enough to require weekly shots have likely realized that some needles are so sharp they pierce the skin without touching any nerves. Those shots are completely painless. Similarly I have had shots where the nurse had to change the needle after 3 failed attempts to puncture the skin. My favorite allergy nurse used to throw the needle at my arm like a dart. If it bounced off she changed the needle. Usually they went in at least a little.