Every childhood vaccine may go into a single jab

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Also, the doses after being stored in the body can be released automatically at a specified time.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) method developed by researchers at vaccines are injected into body structures such as miniature coffee cups. It could be up to two decades, however, before the technology is ready for use in the real world.

British kids typically receive 15 injections under the childhood immunisation programme before their fourth birthday.

Reminiscent of a tiny cup filled with vaccine material and sealed by a lid that can be modified to break down and release its contents at a specific time, the new MIT-designed micro-particle could be used to combine all of those vaccines into a single jab. A custom-built automated device fills the cups with vaccine, then lids are lowered onto the cup and the whole assembly heated to seal it.

The findings from the mice test, published in Science journal, revealed the cups delivered the dose perfectly, breaking down just when the scientists wanted - 9, 20 and 41 days after injection.

The researchers invented a new 3D fabrication method, inspired by computer chip manufacturing, which develops drug-carrying particles into cups.

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Recent developments show that "cup" particles that release their contents hundreds of days after injection are viable, according to the researchers.

The approach has not yet been tested on patients.

"We are very excited about this work". The polymer can be set to degrade in the body at different rates (with some molecular changes), allowing a drug to be delivered over a long period of time.

"This could have a significant impact on patients everywhere, especially in the developing world where patient compliance is particularly poor".

The key to the innovation is a microparticle that not only contains all the active ingredients of the immunisations, but releases them into the bloodstream in bursts at intervals that can be precisely timed by engineering how the particles are constructed, mimicking the way that the vaccines are given now in separate doses but with only one traumatic needle.

Fellow researcher Dr Kevin McHugh said: "In the developing world, that might be the difference between not getting vaccinated and receiving all of your vaccines in one shot".

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