Anyone who hates needles, myself included, sighed with relief when a number of painless alternatives started appearing, albeit in prototype form. The replacement for the needle stabbed into your arm is a micro-needle array with protrusions so tiny you can’t feel them breaking through your skin to deliver the meds.Fujifilm revealed its micro-needle array last year, and then a dried sugar variant appeared in February. Now human trials are set to start with another solution called the Nanopatch.Professor Mark Kendall from Brisbane, Australia invented the patch that uses a similar array of micro-needles, each having dried vaccine applied to them. They beat out standard needles not only because there is no pain involved, but due to the fact the dried vaccine doesn’t require refrigeration, meaning it’s much easier and far cheaper to transport to remote locations. He also argues that the vaccine will work better from a Nanopatch as you are injecting it just below the skin rather than into a muscle.The Nanopatch will be used in a field trial this October in Papua New Guinea. If successful, we move on to clinical trials that happen around 18 months after that in both Papua New Guinea again and Brisbane.The cost difference between needles and a Nanopatch is quite staggering. A typical 3-needle vaccine course costs around $50 where as a single patch can do the same job for 50 cents. So the sooner this becomes the standard way of vaccinating people the better.