Researchers all over the world are hard at work developing a vaccine for COVID-19. So, what if researchers could deliver life-saving vaccines transdermally; that is, without using needles?

Dr. Mona Abdel-Mottaleb is an Egyptian pharmaceutical technology specialist from the Ain Shams University. She is developing immunotherapeutic treatments for the many ailments that face the African continent. “I am trying to establish transdermal vaccines without the use of injections, to give vaccines through the skin,” she says.


Being able to deliver vaccines this way would not only be a welcome painless method for patients, but Abdel-Mottaleb says delivering vaccines through the skin without using needles has the added benefit of avoiding harmful materials. No current vaccine is delivered through the skin so this technology would be a massive break-through.


She has been working on using nanotechnology to safely deliver drugs such as vaccines through the skin, without irritating the skin. “This should be easy to apply and remove as a patch for self delivery if required,” she says.


“I could never do this alone,” she says. “This has to be a trans-disciplinary and multidisciplinary effort where I collaborate with chemists, pharmacologists, biotechnologists, and clinicians.”


She sees Africa as a continent of many treasures, including natural resources such as biodiversity, as well as human capital in the form of talented scientists. “In Africa we have a lot of hidden talents and I believe that Future Africa will have a great hand in making these talents work together for the benefit of the continent.”


Future Africa at the University of Pretoria brings African research talent together to solve the continent’s biggest challenges through programmes such as African Science Leadership Programme (ASLP), of which Abdel-Mottaleb was a 2019 fellow.


Besides the current pandemic of COVID-19, Africa faces many other infectious diseases, and Abdel-Mottaleb hopes to eradicate some of these completely with her idea for a new, African transdermal vaccine technology


Imagine this headline in future: “African COVID-19 vaccine patch shipped globally”. What’s your #ImagineFutureAfrica headline?>