Australian biotechnology company, Vaxxas Pty Ltd (Vaxxas), in collaboration with the University of Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine and Health, has completed a study assessing the usability and acceptability of its novel High-Density Microarray Patch (HD-MAP) to administer vaccines.
The HD-MAP is Vaxxas’ proprietary vaccine patch technology, representing a possible alternative to traditional vaccine delivery methods which haven’t seen new technology beyond needle and syringe in over 170 years. In a matter of seconds, the HD-MAP delivers a small volume of vaccine just under the surface of skin where high amounts of immune cells are found. Being needle-free, the HD-MAP is non-invasive and has the potential to facilitate self-administration of vaccine.
The primary objective of the study, which was co-funded by the Innovative Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC), was to assess the acceptability and usability of the Vaxxas prototype HD-MAP applicator through a simulated vaccination experience in a High-Income Country real-world setting. The goal was to ascertain whether professional immunisers and healthcare workers found the clinical HD-MAP applicator usable and acceptable for vaccine delivery.
Findings of the study were published in the Journal of Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics on 31 January 2022 in a paper titled, Usability, acceptability, and feasibility of a High-Density Microarray Patch (HD-MAP) applicator as a delivery method for vaccination in clinical settings.
The findings build on Vaxxas’ existing pre-clinical and clinical data assessing its HD-MAP technology for vaccine administration, including a previous study in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) that involved a simulation of vaccine administration using the HD-MAP with children in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs).
Vaxxas Chief Technology Officer Angus Forster and Vaxxas Head of Clinical Operations & Supply Charles Ross are co-authors on the study.
“We are excited about the potential of our HD-MAP vaccine patch technology to change the way vital vaccines are delivered both locally and on a global scale,” said Dr Forster. “We are grateful to be working with industry leading professionals from the University of Sydney and the IMCRC to build clinical validation of our technology.”
Cristyn Davies and Professor Rachel Skinner from the Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine and Health were the lead investigators of the study.
“We were thrilled to work with Vaxxas to investigate how its Australian vaccine patch technology can be used for future vaccine administration and pandemic preparedness. Following the successful completion of this study, which saw us simulate a real-world vaccination experience in Australia with professional immunisers and healthcare workers, we look forward to our continued collaboration to see where this technology goes in the future,” said Cristyn Davies, lead author.
“The study provides important evidence to support the role of Vaxxas’ HD-MAP technology in vaccination. Our studies have indicated that Vaxxas’ technology could offer a user-friendly alternative to needles and syringes, with the potential to overcome the many real-world logistical hurdles involved in routine vaccination, such as cold-chain logistics and skilled administration,” said Professor Skinner, senior author.
Professor Robert Booy, infectious diseases expert at the Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases, and a co-author on the study said, “HD-MAPs could revolutionise the way that vaccines are administered and are highly relevant to the goal of achieving high vaccine coverage in a pandemic. I have been watching the Vaxxas story for years and the Company has made great progress developing a practical and easy to use vaccine technology.”
Dr Matthew Young, Manufacturing Innovation Manager at the IMCRC, pointed out that with Vaxxas’ vaccine patch being a primarily Australian developed and manufactured technology, the study is a small but important step of bringing the technology to market.
“Vaxxas’ HD-MAP is potentially revolutionary for vaccine delivery. To successfully commercialise the technology and make it broadly available for practitioners around the world, Vaxxas is required to demonstrate that the HD-MAP applicator is functional, easy to use and accepted by potential users. We were proud to co-fund this study to assess the design concept and manufactured prototype of the Vaxxas HD-MAP for possible future use in vaccine administration, and help bring the Australian innovation one step closer to market.”
Cristyn Davies’ institution has received monies for consultancy work provided to Vaxxas; her salary is paid partly through the research grant which funds this study. Charles Ross and Angus Forster are paid employees of Vaxxas Pty Ltd; the company that co-funded this study. Professor Robert Booy consults to Vaxxas for this work and to Abbott, GSK, Jansen, MSD Merck, Novartis, Novavax, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi Pasteur and Seqirus for activities outside the presented work. Professor Rachel Skinner has received funding from Seqirus and Merck for her contribution to educational activities for the general-public and professionals. Melody Taba, Lucy Deng, Ceylan Karatas, Shopna Bag report no conflicts of interest.