Boston, Massachusetts-based Vaxess Technologies has received two grants – roughly $3m a piece – to develop the vaccines using its MIMIX sustained-release microneedle patch in an attempt to eradicate polio and prevent measles and rubella through increased patient access.
“MIMIX is a small patch, roughly the size of a postage stamp, that contains an array of small needles. To the naked eye, it almost looks like a piece of Velcro,” CEO Michael Schrader told this publication.
When the patch is applied, the needles just break the surface of the skin and begin to dissolve, he continued, leaving behind a small depot of silk-entrapped vaccine in the skin that dissolves over two to four weeks.
“The patch remains on the skin for less than 5 minutes, yet delivers vaccine for weeks.”
While microneedle patches are being developed to deliver a number of drug products (see here, here and here), Vaxess Technologies is “the pioneer in sustained-dermal delivery of vaccines,”according to Scrader, who added the difference when delivering vaccines by transdermal patch is the silk depot left behind.
“This depot is tuned to both stabilize the vaccine in the skin and slowly release it over a predetermined period of time.”
Administering vaccines this way has a number of benefits, he continued.
“The first is to reduce the need for repeat injections. Our goal with polio is to combine two traditional injections into a single, sustained-release patch.
“The second use for sustained release is to improve immune response to weak vaccines. We do this by ‘mimicking’ an actual infection. The body sees a prolonged dose of the vaccine, believes it is infected, and mounts a much stronger immune response.”
Furthermore, the MIMIX platform does not require refrigeration, something which is desirable when administering in resource-poor settings.
Polio, measles and rubella
The first grant will be used to support preclinical and Phase I development of an inactivated polio patch, while the second is for the delivery of a live attenuated measles and rubella vaccine.
The firm is also looking to use its technology to develop a range of other vaccine patches.
“We're targeting diseases like HIV, Herpes, etc. that have been particularly challenging to develop vaccines against,” said Schrader.