STUDY: New ‘SEAL’ System Delivers Multiple Vaccines in One Shot

Researchers at MIT have designed a new drug-release particle that could someday change the way we immunize kids.

As any parent who’s held down a screaming toddler in a pediatrician’s office can attest, childhood immunizations — while necessary — can be difficult. With up to five pokes required at a single visit, multiple boosters for a single vaccine, and a flu shot recommended each year, it can be difficult for even the most organized caregiver to keep up.

Luckily, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have just invented a new method that could allow all immunizations to be condensed into a single jab. The procedure was outlined in a September paper published in Science.

SEAL, which stands for StampEd Assembly of polymer Layers, is a 3-D fabrication technique that allows for a new kind of drug-delivery particle. The particles, which resemble minuscule coffee cups, are generated from an FDA-approved polymer and can be filled with a vaccine before being sealed with a tiny “lid.” The particles can then be designed to degrade, thus releasing their contents, at varying times.

“We are very excited about this work,” MIT’s Robert Langer said in a release. “For the first time, we can create a library of tiny, encased vaccine particles, each programmed to release at a precise, predictable time, so that people could potentially receive a single injection that, in effect, would have multiple boosters already built into it. This could have a significant impact on patients everywhere.”

SEAL was created as part of a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with the goal of increasing vaccine compliance in developing nations.

“In the developing world, it might be the difference between not getting vaccinated and receiving all of your vaccines in one shot,” said MIT’s Kevin McHugh.

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