UCI looking into developing COVID-19 patch as alternative to needle form of vaccine

At UCI School of Medicine, scientists are looking at using a patch -- similar to a nicotine patch -- instead of a syringe and needle as a way to vaccinate and protect us from COVID-19. According to lead researcher Dr. Lbashir BenMohammed, there’s a lot of hope here.

He says that’s "because we’re using the same MRNA (technology) as Moderna and Pfizer. We are not very concerned about safety."

That’s because of how MRNA is performing in this pandemic. This new vaccine uses the same MRNA materials as the two pharmaceutical giants but adds other ingredients to protect against future mutations. Right now, it’s in the animal experimental stage.

"We already put those patches on mice," says BenMohammed. "If you call me in one week I can tell you if it works or not."

BenMohammed says It takes two patches seven days apart. Patches are yet another new idea for dealing with the pandemic.

BenMohammed says, "This is the first time this is going to be tested on coronavirus."

What’s different here is that with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines very cold storage is needed because MRNA is very unstable. He also says by using a patch cold storage is no longer needed.

He says, "if that works, you can imagine putting those patches in an envelope and ship them around the world to people."

They call this a preemptive coronavirus vaccine because it could be used in the future to address various mutations of related coronavirus proteins that come along.

BenMohammed says, "The virus is subject to a lot of mutations so our idea is that if we add other targets (like) proteins then if one protein is mutated the immune system can still attack another protein so it’s like a backup."

BenMohammed says by summer they could start their phase one clinical trial and by early 2022, if all goes well, there could be a patch-vaccine on the market that - in theory - you could give yourself.

The UCI School of Medicine research unit is teamed up with University Pharmaceutical Corporation in Irvine on research and production of the Preemptive Pan (patch) Vaccine.

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