Biotechnology company Vaxxas is breaking ground in immunology with the development of a revolutionary, non-invasive means of delivering vaccinations to patients across the globe.
Originating from The University of Queensland, Vaxxas’ High Density Microarray Patch (HD‐MAP) provides an efficient alternative to the traditional method of delivering intramuscular vaccinations via needle and syringe, by directly depositing vaccines amongst a dense population of key immune cells directly below the skin’s surface.
The innovative device has been engineered to develop a more efficient and effective immune response and has shown in early clinical trials to elicit an immunogenic response in patients that is similar to or — in some cases — more effective than traditional methods by using just one sixth of the amount of vaccine.
Vaxxas Head of Clinical Operations and Supply, Charles Ross, said the technology is paving the way for more effective vaccinations that have practical application opportunities not just in developed countries, but in lower socio-economic populations and developing nations where mainstream vaccination hasn’t yet been possible due to cold-chain restrictions.
“Unlike other vaccination methods that need to be stored and transported at two to eight degrees to maintain the integrity of the vaccine, the proprietary dry‐coating technology used in the HD-MAP allows vaccines to be stored at temperatures up to 40 degrees for over 12 months — making distribution a lot more effective and potentially allowing us to help contribute to eradicating diseases like polio, measles and rubella in developing countries.”
The HD-MAP works by depositing vaccines into the skin via a high-density array of solid micro projections, applied to the skin using a compact, spring-loaded applicator.
The easy-to-use application process also enables the concept of self-administration for rural and remote patients, and eliminates issues related to vaccinating individuals with a fear of injections.
“Efficiencies can also be seen by pharmaceutical companies with the ability to get five or six times the volume of product out the door with no infrastructure investment into their bulks facility, which is not only especially important for pharmaceutical companies, but also in a pandemic scenario where speed of vaccination is vital.”
In a pandemic scenario similar to COVID-19, Vaxxas’ HD-MAP could be transported via Australia Post to mailboxes across a target region, for a parent or care giver to then administer the vaccine to family members and self-administer following very simple instructions. Administration in the home allows isolation rules to be adhered to and eliminates the risk of cross-infection via gatherings of people at health care clinics.
Leveraging the potent immunogenic response and thermostability of the HD‐MAP, Vaxxas is targeting initial applications in infectious disease and oncology, attracting attention from organisations including the World Health Organisation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and equity buy-in from large multi-national pharmaceutical companies including American company Merck, Sharp & Dohme.
Based in Brisbane at the Translational Research Institute Australia, Vaxxas was launched in 2011 and currently has more than 40 staff.