Using a Nanopatch™ to vaccinate the world (Day 276)

detailed earthI’ve talked a good deal in recent posts about novel methods of drug delivery and vaccination (see ‘Making our bodies accept drugs faster’ and ‘Injecting from the instead’) however, today’s blog is about a product that is a step closer to being adopted world-wide.

The Nanopatch™, invented by Professor Mark Kendall, started life at the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

Marks’s Nanopatch™ idea was to offer a needle-free method of drug delivery that could be widely used and increase vaccine efficacy.

In 2011 UniQuest, the University of Queensland’s commercialisation company, helped Mark found Vaxxas to advance the possibility of Nanopatch™ becoming a clinically-proven product.

Today, Vaxxas and Mark are getting closer to making that idea a reality by raising £12.7 million of funding for a series of clinical programs and the development of a pipeline of new vaccine products for major diseases.

Mark’s work aims to replace the traditional needle and syringe with a small patch that delivers vaccines painlessly.

The Nanopatch applicator and a large version of the patch

Photo Credit | University of Queensland
The Nanopatch applicator and a large version of the patch

The Nanopatch™ consists of an array of thousands of vaccine-coated microprojections that perforate the outer layers of the skin when applied. The microprojections are coated with the vaccine and release it directly into the immune cells that lie below the surface of the skin.

Mark gave a TED talk in 2013 after winning the Rolex Award for Enterprise for his Nanopatch™ technology, and  it’s well worth a listen.

The Nanopatch™ technology  eliminates the need for needles and improves the efficacy of the vaccination. It also reduced the need for cold storage of vaccines, making them much easier to transport.

In 2014, Vaxxas was selected as the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer based on the potential of the Nanopatch™ platform to improve health on a global scale. Vaxxas recently secured funding from the World Health Organization (WHO) to evaluate the Nanopatch™ for polio vaccination.

Professor Mark Kendall

Photo Credit | University of Queensland
Professor Mark Kendall

Mark said: “This investment is a key next step in advancing a series of clinical programs and develop a pipeline of new vaccine products for major diseases using Vaxxas’ patented Nanopatch technology.

“The Nanopatch has the potential to improve global health. It is designed for thermostability, making it cheaper to produce, more convenient to transport and easier to access in developing countries.”

I am impressed with Mark’s work. Maybe the Nanopatch™ is the answer to more widespread vaccination throughout the world. Not only can it overcome challenges of vaccine transportation, it will also come as a big relief to those who are scared of needles!

I look forward to hearing how this project progresses, because I think it presents a real opportunity to bring polio vaccination to some of the world’s poorest people.