No more needles? Gates Foundation funds patch-style vaccine technology

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No more needles? Gates Foundation funds patch-style vaccine technology

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Global health experts have long argued for the potential of similar technology to boost the uptake of life-saving shots. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Nov 16 —The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given US$23.6 million (RM111 million) to US-based life science company Micron Biomedical to fund the first ever mass production of needle-free vaccine technology.

The technology works by delivering the vaccine via dissolvable microneedles attached to the skin on a patch-like device.

Global health experts have long argued for the potential of similar technology to boost the uptake of life-saving shots.

It is simpler to transport and administer than traditional injections, particularly in low-income countries where reaching all of the children who need vaccines remains challenging. But scaling up production has been a hurdle.

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A trial in Gambia earlier this year showed that Micron’s device delivered the measles-rubella vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India, to adults, babies and toddlers as safely and effectively as syringes, and produced a similar immune response.

The technology “could help overcome some of the most substantial barriers to eradicating measles and rubella globally”, said James Goodson, senior scientist in the immunization division at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has also partnered with Micron.

It does not require a cold chain to distribute or a trained professional to give the vaccine, and could also help those with a fear of injections, the company said in a statement today.

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The funding will support the development of a manufacturing facility to help make around 10 million devices annually, for larger clinical trials and then wider use, subject to approvals from regulatory authorities. — Reuters

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