Vaxess Technologies said today it has won two grants totaling $6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation toward developing the company’s platform for delivering inactivated polio (IPV) and live attenuated measles rubella (MR) vaccines.
The vaccines will use Vaxess’ MIMIX™ sustained-release microneedle patch technology, designed to deliver vaccines as well as immunotherapies by application to the skin rather than the traditional needle-and-syringe approach. MIMIX is designed to lower barriers to vaccine access by simplifying dosing and administration, alleviating cold chain constraints, and lowering costs.
The technology uses engineered, silk-derived biopolymer microneedles to encapsulate antigens for transdermal administration and controlled release. The company extracts the key structural component of silk, a protein called fibroin, from natural fibers.
The first grant of approximately $3 million will support preclinical development and manufacture of a thermostable IPV microneedle patch, while the second grant of approximately $3 million will support preclinical development of a resorbable microneedle patch for delivery of live attenuated MR vaccine, Vaxess said.
Funding from the second grant will enable Vaxess to develop a thermostable MR vaccine formulation, fabricate microneedle patches incorporating the stable formulation, and establish preclinical proof-of-concept in “appropriate” animal models to support future clinical trials, the company added.
“The use of the MIMIX sustained-release microneedle patch to combine doses and simplify administration has the potential to streamline global eradication efforts,” Vaxess CEO Michael Schrader said in a statement.
In May, Vaxess was awarded two separate Phase I SBIR grants totaling $448,416 from the NIH toward development of MIMIX technology, specifically method development for mass spectrometry analysis of various biomarkers in silk-stabilized blood and serum specimens. The NIH grants were sponsored by the agency’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute for Environmental Health and Safety (NIEHS).
In addition to MIMIX, Vaxess is also developing the MATRIX formulation and drying platform for the development of thermostable vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic products. In October, the company won a $750,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) toward development of MATRIX.
Vaxess was formed in 2012 by Schrader and other co-founders from Harvard and Tufts universities.