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Microneedle based immunisation against pandemic influenza


Microneedle-based immunization against pandemic influenza

Seasonal influenza causes up to 1.5 million deaths worldwide each year. Pandemic influenza killed up to 50 million people during the three pandemics of the last century. Recent spread of avian influenza viruses has raised concerns that another pandemic is looming and could kill millions more. Our ability to deal with a future pandemic is limited in large part by inadequate methods to rapidly vaccinate against new threats. Hypodermic injection of vaccine, by medical personnel, is extremely time consuming, as seen during the prolonged and inefficient annual influenza vaccination campaigns.


Aims of Project

To expedite mass vaccination, this project proposes to develop microneedle-based vaccine patches that can be self-administered; do not produce sharp, biohazardous waste; and are low cost. Such patches could be rapidly distributed through pharmacies, fire stations or even the mail. Because microneedle patches target delivery to skin’s dendritic cells, much lower vaccine doses should be needed, which is vital when pandemic vaccine supplies are limited.


This project is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Project Value



5 years

Additional Information

This project is in collaboration with Dr Mark Prausnitz and Dr Mark Allen from  the Georgia Institute of Technology and Dr Richard Compans and Dr Joshy Jacob from Emory University.  


James Birchall dip coating microneedles in Georgia

Dr James Birchall dip coating a micro-needle device in Mark Prausnitz’s lab, Georgia Institute of Technology during a visit in November 2008


Cardiff University Team

Prof James Birchall

Position:Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
A recent image of Dr James Birchall
Telephone: +44 (0)29 208 75815