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A capsule being developed by leading academics could revolutionise the medical and veterinary industry and help in the fight against infectious diseases. 

Academics from Heriot-Watt University and The University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute say, the capsule which is inserted under the skin and releases medicine at specific times, could mean fewer trips to the vet and GP. 

Currently, vaccination is one of the most effective and economic ways of fighting infectious diseases. 

However, providing the necessary booster shots at specific times is a challenge in humans as well as in animals. 

Now, the revolutionary new device, could cut out the need for repeated injections and help fight infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis. 

The research uses 3D printing with newly developed biomaterials to make an implantable capsule containing the vaccine booster. 

If successful the device can also be used for antibiotics, chemotherapeutics and other drugs, both in animals and humans.

The project is being delivered by Heriot-Watt University and The Roslin Institute thanks to £800k joint funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). 

Dr Ferry PW Melchels, Assistant Professor, Heriot-Watt’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering said: “In this project capsules will be prepared that are inserted under the skin together with the first injection. The capsule contains the vaccine as well as a sugar solution.

“The sugar will attract water to flow in through the capsule wall, leading to pressure build-up and eventually bursting of the capsule, and delivery of the vaccine booster. 

“By carefully tailoring the material properties and capsule design, we aim to achieve release at the desired time-point, without needing any intervention. 

“This will omit the need for a second visit to the doctor or a second visit from the vet; it will even allow to vaccinate wildlife without having to recapture the animals to give them their booster shots.

“We aim to begin the first step by developing and testing the capsules, and applying them to fight tuberculosis in cattle.”