Micron nets nearly $24M from Gates Foundation to pioneer needle-free vaccine tech in low- and middle-income countries

Micron Biomedical is well on its way to commercializing its needle-free vaccine technology thanks in large part to a new grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Thursday, the Gates Foundation blessed Micron with a $23.6 million grant to build out a commercial manufacturing facility for the company’s dissolvable, microarray-based drug and vaccine delivery tech.

The deal sets up Micron to market its needle-free measles and rubella vaccine in small children once approved, the company said in a release.

The deal is “100% dedicated to building out and scaling up manufacturing” for “mass” production of Micron’s technology, the company’s CEO, Steven Damon, said in an interview.

Micron's product will only be sold in low- and middle-income markets, given the lack of the mumps component required to commercialize in other regions, Damon said.

While Micron is focusing on measles and rubella in low- and middle-income countries to start, the technology could be deployed to other vaccines.

As for how Micron’s tech works, the delivery system is separate but “in the same bucket” as microneedle patches, Damon said. The system divides a typical injection into 150 doses that are freeze-dried into the shape of a “sharp projectile” and assembled on a small "button."

From there, a healthcare worker merely needs to push the vaccine into the skin, the CEO explained.

Measles remains one of the leading causes of death in low- and middle-income countries, Micron says, due in large part to limited access to vaccines that require refrigeration during transport and clinicians to administer them.

Enter Micron’s needle-free vaccine, which eliminates the need for a cold chain and allows community healthcare workers to vaccinate a child in minutes by simply applying the company’s tech to the skin and pressing a button that confirms administration.

Micron’s technology facilitates pain-free administration that eliminates the need for “cumbersome” infrastructure requirements that typically form barriers to mass vaccination, Micron said.

All kids should be vaccinated against measles between the ages of 9 and 15 months, and again between 15 to 18 months, according to the World Health Organization.

Earlier this year, meanwhile, Micron announced positive results from a phase 1/2 trial in Gambia looking at the safety and effectiveness of its technology when applied to the “leading commercially available” measles and rubella vaccine.