Tiny vaccine delivery patches could solve logistical challenges, but they face manufacturing hurdles. Here’s how Vaxxas is trying to overcome them.Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Vaxxas announced earlier this year that the pharmaceutical giant was using Vaxxas’ High Density Microarray Patch (HD-MAP) platform as a delivery platform for a vaccine candidate.
Vaxxas did not disclose what type of vaccine the patches might deliver and Merck declined to reveal it. But Merck is very much in the race to create a vaccine to protect against the virus that causes COVID-19.
Meanwhile, German manufacturing equipment maker Harro Höfliger has agreed to help Vaxxas (Cambridge, Mass.; Sydney, Australia) develop a high-throughput, aseptic manufacturing line to make vaccine products based on Vaxxas’ HD-MAP technology. Initial efforts will focus on having a pilot line operating in 2021 to support late-stage clinical studies with a goal of single, aseptic-based lines being able to churn out 5 million vaccine products a week.
Based on technology originally developed at the University of Queensland, Vaxxas’ HD-MAP includes a 9-by-9 mm array of thousands of very short projections around 250 microns in length. Invisible to the naked eye and coated with vaccine, the projections can quickly deliver vaccine to immune cells. Vaxxas officials claim the technology can deliver vaccine more efficiently than a needle and syringe.
The patch comes in a hockey-puck-shaped applicator with a foil seal. The patch is anchored on a serpentine ring with a powerful dome spring behind.