Are skin patches the future of vaccine delivery? That is the hope of investors in MyLife Technologies, who have provided cash to support production of ceramic vaccine patches for clinical studies.
MyLife’s use of ceramic and nanoporous microneedle arrays sets it apart from other groups working on patch-based delivery, with the company claiming its technology supports a unique release profile and is free from degradation products that can interact with vaccines or cause adverse events. The pitch has found favor with some Dutch investors, leading to a $4 million funding round.
Armed with the cash, MyLife will prepare clinical batches and invest to show its patches work in the delivery of vaccines against COVID-19, human papillomavirus and a variety of cancers. MyLife sees the work as a steppingstone to a planned $17.5 million series A investment in early 2023, which will equip it to build a pilot plant and expand in Asia and the U.S.
The idea of using skin patches to deliver vaccines has been knocking around for years without ever coming close to putting a dent in the dominance of needle-and-syringe administration. However, the pandemic has shaken up the vaccine industry, potentially opening the door to new approaches—if their developers can show they provide real advantages.
Early evidence of the benefits of at least one take on the concept emerged late last month, when researchers at the University of Queensland published a Science Advances paper on the use of a high-density microarray patch to deliver a SARS-CoV-2 spike subunit vaccine in mice. The researchers found the immune response was superior to that achieved via needle-and-syringe administration.
Mice treated with the patch had higher levels of antibodies than their counterparts that received an intradermal injection after both one and two doses. The strongest immune response was seen after two doses of the adjuvanted, patch-delivered vaccine.
Previous work has found the enhanced immune response in patch-treated subjects is a result of the “colocalization of vaccine with localized cell death caused by mechanical stresses.” The patch induces signaling pathways that may contribute to enhanced vaccine-induced adaptive immune responses.