The funding will support development of Lumen’s MoDuSA (Modular Dual Scaffolded Adjuvant) technology for the alternative vaccines.
“Covid-19 revealed that vaccines are still the most powerful option in the public health toolkit. However, injection delivery is still required for nearly all vaccines on the market, which limits access,” said Dr Nhi Khuong, vice president, preclinical at Lumen.
“This new technology could expand access and ease vaccine production, storage, and administration in future public health emergencies.”
According to the company, the aim is to develop a platform that allows vaccine researchers to quickly develop and deliver shelf-stable and self-administered adjuvanted vaccines.
The technology is also expected to be useful for conventional injection vaccines.
Lumen argues that needle-free administration can offer several advantages. Firstly, trypanophobia, otherwise known as needle fear, affects about 25% of the population.
In addition, most vaccine injections require trained medical personnel and refrigerated distribution and storage, and these logistics can impede distribution. This is particularly true in resource-constrained settings like the developing world and battlefield medicine.
A key limitation blocking wider adoption of needle-free vaccines is also the lack of good adjuvants for intranasal and oral delivery, the company said.
Adjuvants are an extra ingredient in nearly all vaccines that amplifies the immune response so that immunity is more protective and lasts longer.
The MoDuSA program builds on research previously published by the Lumen team in NPJ Vaccines demonstrating an intranasal vaccine against malaria.
Lumen and its collaborators at the University of Washington reported that its intranasal vaccine could protect against malaria challenge in mice despite the fact that malaria is a systemic parasite not a mucosal pathogen—a more difficult technical challenge.
The company’s clinical pipeline includes investigational biologic drugs for C. difficile infection, Covid-19, cardiometabolic disease, inflammatory bowel disease, norovirus, and traveler’s diarrhea.