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Nanopatch inventor wins Aust science prize

AAP logoAAP 9/11/2016 Sarah Wiedersehn

Queensland researcher Professor Mark Kendall has been awarded one of Australia's highest science honours for inventing the Nanopatch - a needle-free vaccine delivery device.

Professor Kendall was named the recipient of the $25,000 CSL Young Florey Medal at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday night for his invention that could soon see doctors throw away the needle and syringe after 160 years.

The award, presented every two years, is named after the co-inventor of penicillin and Australia's first Nobel Laureate in Medicine Sir Howard Florey.

"It is very humbling and a great honour to receive this award," Professor Kendall said.

"Sir Howard Florey was a hugely inspiring individual. What he accomplished is scientific folklore."

Prof Kendall could also soon become part of that folklore if human trials of his Nanopatch technology are successful.

The Nanopatch is a small square of silicon with 20,000 microscopic spikes delivers vaccines directly to the skin's immune cells.

It's painless, requires a fraction of the dose, doesn't need refrigeration, and eliminates needle phobia.

The director of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Professor Alan Rowan says it's destined to improve the health of millions of people worldwide.

Prof Rowan said traditionally, the need to keep vaccines chilled had made vaccination schemes logistically challenging in remote and disadvantaged areas.

"Vaccines coated onto the Nanopatch do not need to be kept cold, and may require less vaccine for effective immunization when compared to traditional needle and syringe methods," he said.

Human clinical trials are underway in Brisbane, and the World Health Organisation is planning a polio vaccine trial in Cuba in 2017.

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