The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded two grants worth a total of $6 million to the Boston-based life sciences company Vaxess Technologies, Inc. The grants will support research to create two micro-needle vaccine “patches” that simplify delivery of the inactivated polio (IPV) and live attenuated measles rubella (M-R) vaccines through needle-free delivery systems and heat-stabilized vaccines that do not require refrigeration.1 2
According to Vaxess and the Gates Foundation, needle-free vaccine delivery methods would help overcome the shortage of needles and syringes and lack of refrigeration equipment in developing regions of the world.1
The technology developed by Vaxess is known as MIMIX—a sustained-release micro needle patch platform. The vaccine patch is placed on the skin for five minutes rather than using a needle and syringe.1 According to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News:
MIMIX is designed to lower barriers to vaccine access by simplifying dosing and administration, alleviating cold chain constraints, and lowering costs. The technology uses engineered, silk-derived biopolymer micro-needles to encapsulate antigens for transdermal administration and controlled release. The company extracts the key structural component of silk, a protein called fibroin, from natural fibers.2
Michael Schrader, the CEO of Vaxess, has said that the “use of the MIMIX sustained-release micro-needle patch to combine doses and simplify administration has the potential to streamline global eradication efforts.”2 His firm also received a grant of $448,416 in May 2016 from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) for development of MIMIX technology.2 3
1 LeMieux J. Vaccines Without Needles? Yes, please! American Council on Science and Health Mar. 2, 2017.
2 Gen News Highlights. Vaxess Wins $6M in Gates Foundation Grants for Vaccine Delivery Platform. Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News Mar. 6, 2017.
3 Vaxess Technologies, Inc. Vaxess Awarded Two NIH Grants for Stabilization of Biospecimens. Vaxess.com May. 16, 2016.