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Needle-Free Flu Vaccine Patch Effective in Early Study

Monday, September 16, 2019

A new needle-free flu vaccine patch revved up the immune system much like a traditional flu shot without any negative side effects, according to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Though the research is in the early stages (the patch hasn't been tested in humans), it's an important step toward a technology that could replace needle-based vaccination methods that require administration by health care workers and biohazard waste removal.

"Scientists have been studying needle-free vaccine approaches for nearly two decades, but none of the technologies have lived up to the hype," said Benjamin L. Miller, Ph.D., corresponding author and Dean's Professor of Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "Our patch overcomes a lot of the challenges faced by microneedle patches for vaccine delivery, the main method that's been tested over the years, and our efficacy and lack of toxicity make me excited about the prospect of a product that could have huge implications for global health."

Common skin disease paves the way for needleless flu shot

Transporting big molecules like flu vaccine proteins across the skin is difficult to do, as the skin is intended to keep things out of the body, not to let them in. The study team took lessons learned from the research and treatment of a common inflammatory skin disease to overcome this hurdle and inform their flu vaccine patch strategy.

In patients with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, the skin barrier is leaky, allowing pollens, molds and a host of other allergens to enter through the skin and be sensed by the immune system. Lisa A. Beck, M.D., corresponding author and Dean's Professor of Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered that the expression of a protein called claudin-1 helps maintain barrier strength and lessen the permeability of the skin. Claudin-1 is significantly reduced in eczema patients (hence the leaky skin barrier) compared to individuals without the disease.

Read More: Needle-Free Flu Vaccine Patch Effective in Early Study

Women of invention: How Rochester faculty find success as patent-holders

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

They create novel devices that enable real-time biopsies, light the way for robotic surgery, and help independent-minded teens manage their asthma.

They develop new technologies to target the delivery of drug therapies with unprecedented accuracy, to help stroke victims regain their sight, and to vaccinate people with a simple, wearable skin patch that could have global impact.

Lisa Beck, Danielle Benoit, Paula Doyle, Hykekyun Rhee, Krystel Huxlin, and Jannick Rolland are among the women inventors who have placed the University of Rochester in an enviable position.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, Rochester ranked fourth among US universities during 2011--2015 for the percentage of patent holders who are women.

Read More: Women of invention: How Rochester faculty find success as patent-holders

Lisa Beck Featured Among UR Women of Invention

Friday, April 12, 2019

From the small town of Portville, N.Y., to the world stage, discover the story behind Beck's career and passion for science and medicine in this UR "Women of Invention" profile. The professor of Dermatology's atopic dermatitis research has led to an innovation that could deliver a variety of vaccines on a global scale.

When it comes to research and invention, "there are lots of great questions," says Lisa Beck, an internationally recognized expert in atopic dermatitis. "But not all of them have answers."

And even when those questions do have answers, those answers may be lurking in unexpected places.

For example, atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, is a chronic skin disease that causes unsightly lesions, profound itching, and outright misery for up to 20 percent of children and 9 percent of adults.

There is no known cure. However, Beck's lab at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered a defective protein that appears to be responsible for creating the "leaky" skin that causes the condition.

What's leaky skin? It occurs when "water comes out, which makes the skin dry, and allergens, microbes, and irritants get in and cause the characteristic inflammation of the disease," says Beck, a Dean's Professor of Dermatology. "And it makes you very allergy prone."

Her discovery of the defective protein may eventually lead to new ways to treat atopic dermatitis. But in the meantime, Beck and her collaborators—Ben Miller, also a professor of dermatology, and Anna De Benedetto, formerly at Rochester, now associate professor of dermatology at the University of Florida—have found a peptide that can temporarily "recreate" the same effect of having a faulty protein in healthy people as well.

That may not seem particularly helpful at first glance. But applied as part of a small wearable patch, the peptide can temporarily create temporary "leaks" in a very localized area of healthy skin. In doing so, it creates a perfect portal for vaccinating people or as an alternative route for drug delivery.

Read More: Lisa Beck Featured Among UR Women of Invention