Ever since vaccinations were discovered to be incredibly effective in preventing contagious and dangerous diseases, the medical community has tried to broaden the range of preventative measures and make existing ones even more effective. Currently, vaccination schedules can span months or years and require multiple injections which can be stressful for patients. Engineers and researchers at MIT may have changed all that by inventing a 3-D fabrication method for vaccinations.
MIT Changes the Game Again
MIT has recently invented a fabrication method for a new type of container in which multiple doses of drugs can be stored. This means that the doses could be released at various times after the initial injection. We could potentially be seeing the start of a new era in medicine where all childhood – and maybe even adult – vaccinations are issued in one session.
The drug-carrying containers apparently look like little cups that are filled with drugs, medicines, or vaccines, and are capped off to seal them. They are made from a biodegradable material which degrades over a specific period of time. Once the integrity of the “cup” has sufficiently deteriorated, its contents will enter the body uninhibited. The need to return to a clinic to receive booster injections is replaced by receiving various cups degrading at different, predetermined times.
This method could, in theory, apply to all vaccinations needed throughout a person’s lifetime. Receiving an injection early in life containing all of the needed vaccinations to be released at the right time until one’s death is not as outlandish as it sounds. Perhaps new injections would have to take place as medical science advances and we discover new vaccines to some of our microbial nemeses, but otherwise this could be a sort of “fire and forget” way of dealing with vaccinations.
Benefits of this approach seem clear. Taking medical professionals away from administering multiple rounds of vaccinations could free up their time to devote care to other patients. While most health insurers include vaccinations in their plans, this could help consumers, the insurance industry, and the medical profession save money and resources. It also would be a huge relief to patients who don’t like needles. Instead of having to dread their next doctor’s visit knowing there will be either a new vaccination or a booster for a previous one, these patients would only have to endure one needle to get a wealth of immunization. Anything that saves money, time, and stress is worthy of industry praise.
This all sounds great, but it has yet to be tested on patients yet. We are still somewhat far away from this solution becoming common practice in medical clinics. That being said, it is a significant development which bodes well for the medical industry and patients in the not-so-distant future.