November 20, 2023: Micron Biomedical, a US Atlanta-based medical device company, announced a $23.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund its production of needle-free vaccines.
The company’s microarray technology received a grant from the foundation in 2017 to start a clinical trial to expand the accessibility of the measles-rubella (MR) vaccine in developing nations, according to a company statement.
The new funding will help Micron to increase its manufacturing capacity for larger clinical trials and the commercial availability of needle-free vaccine delivery.
“This first commercial-scale production facility establishes Micron’s proof of concept for additional commercial vaccines and drugs in all markets globally,” according to the statement.
The technology reduces the need for a cold chain and, allows a community health worker to vaccinate a child within minutes by applying the technology to the skin and pressing a button that confirms administration. The administration of the vaccine is virtually pain-free.
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.
“Vaccines are among the most effective and cost-effective tools to prevent measles and rubella, diseases that account for an estimated 350 deaths per day with a disproportionate impact on people living in low- and middle-income countries,” said James Goodson, Senior Scientist and Epidemiologist in the Global Immunization Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Microarray-based measles-rubella vaccines could provide an alternative approach to delivering these life-saving vaccines to children in regions with some of the highest rates of unimmunized children in the world.”
It “could help overcome some of the most substantial barriers to eradicating measles and rubella globally.”
According to the WHO, all children should be vaccinated against measles between the ages of 9 and 15 months, and then again between 15 and 18 months.
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 vaccine delivered by Micron’s microarray technology in adults, toddlers and infants as young as 9 months old.
Micron partners with or receives funding from private and public pharmaceutical and biotech companies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PATH — a non-profit global health organisation — and the Georgia Research Alliance.