Needle-Free COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Promise – Protection via a Single Pain-Free “Click”

Vaxxas Cleanroom

Technicians working with the high-density microarray patch in the Vaxxas cleanroom. Credit: Vaxxas

A needle-free COVID-19 vaccination could be possible, with University of Queensland scientists successfully protecting mice from the virus by administering a US-developed vaccine candidate with a ‘patch’.

The University of Texas Hexapro vaccine candidate – delivered via the UQ-developed and Vaxxas-commercialized high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP) – provided protection against COVID-19 disease with a single, pain-free ‘click’ from a pocket-sized applicator.

High-density microarray patch technology. Credit: The University of Queensland

Dr. David Muller, from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, said the vaccine patch produced strong immune responses that were shown to be effective when the mice were exposed to SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19.

“When the Hexapro vaccine is delivered via HD-MAP applicator – rather than a needle – it produces better and faster immune responses,” Dr. Muller said.

“It also neutralizes multiple variants, including the UK and South Africa variants.

“And it’s much more user-friendly than a needle – you simply ‘click’ an applicator on the skin, and 5000 microscopic projections almost-imperceptibly deliver vaccine into the skin.”

UQ’s Dr. David Muller holding HD-MAP technology. Credit: The University of Queensland

Dr. Muller said the UQ team, together with Vaxxas, hoped to take the technology to the world and are looking for funding opportunities to accelerate to clinical trials as soon as possible.”

“Hexapro, delivered by the high-density microarray patch, could dramatically assist global vaccine rollout effort, particularly for billions of vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries.

“We’ve shown this vaccine, when dry-coated on a patch, is stable for at least 30 days at 25 degrees Celsius and one week at 40 degrees, so it doesn’t have the cold chain requirements of some of the current options.”

President and CEO of Vaxxas, David L. Hoey, said he was extremely excited about the findings.

The UQ research team, featuring (foreground, L-R) Dr. Chris McMillan, Dr. David Muller, (background, L-R) Dr. Alberto Amarilla, Dr. Naphak Modhiran Ortiz, and Ms. Jovin Choo. Credit: The University of Queensland

“These results are extremely clear – vaccination by HD-MAP produces much stronger and more protective immune responses against COVID-19 in model systems than via needle or syringe,” he said.

“We thank and recognize our incredible research collaborators at UQ for these important findings.

“The prospect of having a single-dose vaccine, that could be easily distributed and self-administered, would greatly improve global pandemic vaccination capabilities.”

Reference: “Complete protection by a single-dose skin patch–delivered SARS-CoV-2 spike vaccine” by Christopher L. D. McMillan, Jovin J. Y. Choo, Adi Idris, Aroon Supramaniam, Naphak Modhiran, Alberto A. Amarilla, Ariel Isaacs, Stacey T. M. Cheung, Benjamin Liang, Helle Bielefeldt-Ohmann, Armira Azuar, Dhruba Acharya, Gabrielle Kelly, Germain J. P. Fernando, Michael J. Landsberg, Alexander A. Khromykh, Daniel Watterson, Paul R. Young, Nigel A. J. McMillan and David A. Muller, 29 October 2021, Science Advances.
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj8065


View Comments

  • It doesn't seem very honest to call a device with a thousand needles on it "needle free." Prior to this press release, they were called microneedle applicators.

  • Multiple tiny subcutaneous injections take place of deep intramuscular injection. Hmmmm. Think I'd take the first option especially since it is looking to be more effective and I get to administer it to myself. Win, win.

  • What are we waiting for, where's the urgency the needle vaccines got? get this thing out there asap!!! Tired of isolating in my flat because I hate needles

University of Queensland

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