BBQ Lighters Spark New Vaccine Delivery Device

Medscape Staff

October 22, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

A device inspired by the electrical sparking of battery-free gas lighters could lead to more efficient and cheaper delivery of vaccines.

What to know:

  • Electroporation, which can deliver substances such as DNA directly into cells, is commonly utilized only in research labs with costly and complex equipment.

  • A team of researchers from Georgia Tech created a pen-sized, battery-free device that can perform electroporation at a fraction of the cost. Inspiration for the device came via the gas lighters used to light barbecues.

  • The so-called ePatch uses the mechanism from a gas lighter to generate short pulses of electricity with a simple click. It is used in conjunction with microneedle electrodes that create an electrical interface with the skin.

  • Teaming up with researchers from the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, Georgia, the researchers showed that delivering a DNA vaccine for COVID-19 through the ePatch induced a nearly tenfold improved immune response in mice in comparison with other vaccination methods that did not use electroporation.

  • The ePatch may be easier to transport than the mRNA COVID vaccines, and it may be more affordable than current electroporation methods. It could help to provide vaccines to more people around the world.

This is a summary of the article "BBQ Lighter, Combined With Microneedles, Sparks Breakthrough in Covid-19 Vaccine Delivery," published by Georgia Tech on October 20. The full article can be found on research.gatech.edu.

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