Kataryzna (Kasia) M. Sawicka, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Dermatology, won the national Collegiate Inventors Competition for her “Immuno-Matrix” in November 2014. The Immuno-matrix is a skin patch held together by nanofibers to deliver a vaccine through skin absorption; it’s a needleless vaccination that’s as simple and painless as putting on a Band-Aid.
The Immuno-matrix has the potential to play a major role in the combat and eradication of infectious diseases. Not only is this new technique lean, as there is no biohazardous waste, but the very concept is groundbreaking. Previously, scientists believed that a compound’s molecular weight must be under 500 Daltons in order for skin absorption to work. Thus, other technologies relied on some form of mechanical disruption of the skin. Sawicka’s Immuno-matrix works by exchanging moisture via the topmost layers of the skin. Furthermore, the Immuno-matrix has shown to successfully deliver molecules 250 times the previously expected maximum size.
By taking advantage of the skin delivery system, the Immuno-matrix is able to deliver only the most immunogenic part of the vaccine, which is usually a protein. Yet the Immunomatrix seems to be just as effective in conferring immunity as injections. Sawicka and her team have successfully delivered the whooping cough antigen in vivo and both the influenza and anthrax in vitro using the Immuno-matrix. Another benefit of a skin delivery system is that within the skin, there’s an extensive lymphatic system which makes finding an immunocompetent cell in the skin extremely easy.
Sawicka, who placed first of seven graduate student teams from across the United States, hopes to see the commercialization of Immmunomatrix and for her invention to be used in hospitals and clinics throughout the world.
“Bringing the concept of infectious disease immunization without the use of needles to this stage is a great advancement to our field,” said President Samuel L. Stanley. “We are excited to see the outcome of the next phase of Kasia’s work on ImmunoMatrix” (1).
- Almonte, Alida. “Needleless Vaccination Developed at Stony Brook Takes 1st Place at Inventors Competition.” Stony Brook Research. Stony Brook University, 21 Nov. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.