A BBQ Lighter Inspired This Vaccine Injector

The device could make vaccines less expensive and more accessible to remote areas where the cold chain is difficult.

A recent Medgadget article reported an innovative new vaccine delivery device that drew inspiration from an unlikely source: the barbecue. A lot of the new COVID-19 vaccines contain DNA that’s encased in lipid nanoparticles that help it penetrate our cells. But these special lipid particles increase the cost of the vaccines and require cold storage, making them less than ideal for rural areas and developing countries. To address this, a team of researchers at Georgia Tech repurposed a BBQ gas lighter to administer vaccines via electroporation.

Electroporation is a microbiology technique that uses an electrical field to make cells more permeable and capable of receiving drugs, arrays, or DNA. The team combined microneedle technology with the piezoelectric sparking mechanism inside a BBQ lighter to create what they call the ePatch. It was successfully tested on mice, which gives hope for a human application down the road. A video with more information can be seen here.

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