COVID-19 vaccine patches do not require transport of the refrigeration chain

Researchers at the University of Queensland and Vaxxas, a medical technology company, announced the development of a high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP) that can deliver a COVID-19 vaccine through the skin without the need for needles. Although such a minimally invasive vaccine technology is to be welcomed, the biggest breakthrough is the temperature stability of the vaccine. The researchers were able to stabilize the formulation on the patch so that it can last for a month at room temperature and a week at 40 degrees Celsius (104 F), meaning that the new vaccine technology can help overcome the transport chain’s transport barriers.

Skin-fixed patches offer a number of benefits over traditional needle injections, including less pain and irritation, and ease of use in people who have problems with needles, such as young children. There has recently been a wave of microneedle technologies designed to deliver a range of therapeutic agents through the skin, and it was perhaps only a matter of time before anyone applied this technology to a COVID-19 vaccine.

However, the most exciting thing about this vaccine is perhaps not the HD-MAP delivery technology, but rather the logistical potential of its temperature stability. The researchers adapted their system to deliver the inexpensive Hexapro vaccine, which was developed at the University of Texas.

“When the Hexapro vaccine is delivered via HD-MAP applicator – rather than a needle – it produces better and faster immune responses,” said David Muller, a researcher involved in the study, via a press release. “It also neutralizes several variants, including variants from the UK and South Africa. And it’s much more user-friendly than a needle – you just ‘click’ on an applicator on the skin, and 5,000 microscopic protrusions deliver almost imperceptible vaccine into the skin.”

The temperature stability of the vaccine can be a game changer in developing countries, where vaccine supplies have been slowed down by the need for cold chain transport and cold storage.

“Hexapro, provided by the high-density microarray patch, can dramatically help global vaccine deployment efforts, especially for billions of vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries,” Muller said. “We have shown that this vaccine, when dried on a patch, is stable for at least 30 days at 25 degrees Celsius and one week at 40 degrees, so it does not meet the cold chain requirements of some of the current options.”

So far, the researchers have tested the technology in mice with promising results and hope to move on to clinical trials soon.

Here is a video with the researchers who developed the new vaccine delivery system:

Studying in The progress of science: Complete protection with a single dose of skin patch-supplied SARS-CoV-2 spike vaccine

Via: University of Queensland

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