Gates Foundation grants $23.6M to Micron Biomedical for needle-free vaccines

Steven Loeb · November 16, 2023 · Short URL:

The company will use the funding to mass produce its “peel & stick” microarray technology

As it stands today, the delivery of injectable vaccines and therapeutics require a great deal of infrastructure, which significantly hinders access in low and middle income countries that lack refrigeration and healthcare workers. It also causes problems in higher income countries, where patients can struggle to get an in-person visit and would prefer to self-administer at home.

Micron Biomedical is attempting to solve for this problem with the development of a needle-free vaccine: its “peel & stick” microarray technology is applied to the skin and allows for self-administration or lower skilled caregiver administration of pharmaceuticals by pressing a button. Vaccines and medicines are delivered within seconds to minutes.

"Micron is solving some of the most pressing challenges facing conventional vaccine and drug administration by eliminating or greatly reducing the need for cold chain during delivery and/or storage; reducing transportation and storage costs; allowing safe vaccine and drug administration by non-medical personnel; reducing medical waste; and offering needle-free solutions to address vaccine hesitancy and improve patient compliance," Steven Damon, CEO of Micron Biomedical, told VatorNews. 

Now the company will be able to mass produce its device thanks to a $23.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was announced on Thursday. 

The manufacturing facility will enable commercialization of the first microarray technology-based measles-rubella vaccine, indicated for children as young as nine months, once approved by the appropriate regulatory authorities following additional clinical study.

The company decided to start with measles-rubella vaccine because of the need: according to the World Health Organization, all children should be vaccinated against measles between the ages of 9 and 15 months, then again between 15 and 18 months.

"Despite the availability of incredibly effective vaccines, in low- and middle-income countries, measles remains a leading cause of death, primarily due to limited access to vaccines that require refrigeration during transport and storage and clinicians to administer them," Damon explained. 

The technology is not limited to the measles-rubella vaccine, however, and can be used for a number of different applications, including COVID vaccines. In fact, Mark Prausnitz, Chief Scientific Officer, Micron Biomedical, recently spoke at the White House Summit on the Future of COVID 19 Vaccines. 

Micron works with pharma and biotech companies who want to improve accessibility of their vaccines and therapeutics, as well as with foundations and agencies, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the CDC, to get its device into the hands of those who need it. 

Earlier this year, Micron announced successful clinical data from a phase I/II study in the Gambia, which evaluated the safety, immunogenicity, and acceptability of the leading commercially available MR vaccine delivered by Micron's microarray technology in adults, toddlers and infants as young as nine months old. 

The company also completed a successful seasonal flu phase 1 clinical trial in adults with efficacy data equal to or better than IM injection.

The company's ultimate goal is to improve access to vaccines and medicine globally, Damon said.

"As we partner with life science leaders looking to improve access and experiences for their patients we will be successful when we can improve the health of as much of our population as possible. In addition to the tremendous opportunity to vaccinate people who today have no access to life-saving pharmaceuticals, when you consider injectable medications for weight loss, diabetes, infertility and other category, the opportunity is enormous globally," he explained. 

"This first commercial-scale production facility establishes Micron’s proof of concept for additional commercial vaccines and drugs in all markets globally."

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