Dissolving microneedles for DNA vaccination: Improving functionality via polymer characterisation and RALA complexation

Grace Cole, Joanne McCaffrey, Ahlam A. Ali, John W. McBride, Cian M. McCrudden, Eva M. Vicente-Perez, Ryan F. Donnelly, Helen O. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
192 Downloads (Pure)


DNA vaccination holds the potential to treat or prevent nearly any immunogenic disease, including cancer. To date, these vaccines have demonstrated limited immunogenicity in vivo due to the absence of a suitable delivery system which can protect DNA from degradation and improve transfection efficiencies in vivo. Recently, microneedles have been described as a novel physical delivery technology to enhance DNA vaccine immunogenicity. Of these devices, dissolvable microneedles promise a safe, pain-free delivery system which may simultaneously improve DNA stability within a solid matrix and increase DNA delivery compared to solid arrays. However, to date little work has directly compared the suitability of different dissolvable matrices for formulation of DNA-loaded microneedles. Therefore, the current study examined the ability of four polymers to formulate mechanically robust, functional DNA loaded dissolvable microneedles. Additionally, complexation of DNA to a cationic delivery peptide, RALA, prior to incorporation into the dissolvable matrix was explored as a means to improve transfection efficacies following release from the polymer matrix. Our data demonstrates that DNA is degraded following incorporation into PVP, but not PVA matrices. The complexation of DNA to RALA prior to incorporation into polymers resulted in higher recovery from dissolvable matrices, and increased transfection efficiencies in vitro. Additionally, RALA/DNA nanoparticles released from dissolvable PVA matrices demonstrated 2 - 10 fold higher transfection efficiencies than the corresponding complexes released from PVP matrices, indicating that PVA is a superior polymer for this microneedle application.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics
Early online date15 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 02 Jan 2017


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