CEPI and aVaxziPen Ltd announced in June 2023 that they are partnering to advance the development of two vaccine candidates that use aVaxziPen’s solid-dose vaccine delivery platform. CEPI is set to provide up to $1.6 million to establish proof-of-concept for aVaxziPen’s technology by evaluating stability, delivery, and preclinical immunogenicity of mRNA and protein-based vaccines developed with the platform.
The need for needle-free
A key lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic was the importance of innovative technology to promote equitable access to the lifesaving vaccines that were developed. Central to the issue of access is storage, with many vaccines requiring very low temperature facilities. In particular, the mRNA vaccines need frozen storage and must be used quickly after they have been removed from the freezer.
If the barrier of frozen storage could be overcome, deploying mRNA vaccines would be easier and cheaper to supply and store to lower-resource settings. This would also be helpful for protein-based vaccines, which may not require frozen facilities but do often need cold storage.
The team at aVaxziPen is developing a novel, needle-free vaccine technology platform. The solid-dose technology uses a pen applicator and is designed to address storage concerns by protecting mRNA and proteins against degradation through a proprietary solid-dose formulation technology. This uses precision engineering to produce a “thermostable, guaranteed solid-dose formulation”.
Furthermore, the applicator device presents additional benefits such as easier administration and waste reduction; it can be reused for 1,000 doses.
“Its light and robust presentation also makes it ideal for shipment and storage.”
The project is part of CEPI’s Call for Proposals from January 2022 with the aim of improving thermostability of a variety of new vaccine platforms. If preclinical proof-of-concept is established the partnership may be continued through Phase I trials of vaccine candidates.
The partnership aligns with the organisations’ joint commitment to enabling equitable access to vaccines. The agreement states that aVaxziPen will ensure supply for LMICs, production of volumes to meet public health needs, affordable pricing, and possible technology transfer to LMIC manufacturers.
Anand Ekambaram is CEPI’s Executive Director of Manufacturing and Supply Chain. He emphasises that “equitable access is at the heart of CEPI’s mission”.
“aVaxziPen’s innovative vaccine delivery technology requires little-to-no training to administer, while simultaneously reducing the need for expensive and burdensome cold-chain storage, allowing for easier distribution and administration.”
Robin Cohen, Chief Business Officer at aVaxziPen is “delighted to be working with CEPI”.
“Collaboratively we will bring our solid-dose vaccine formulations to two vaccines to demonstrate significantly improved and extended thermostability, as well as testing immunogenicity with plans to progress into Phase I clinical trials.”
For aVaxziPen it is a “great step forward” in the mission to “disrupt the vaccine market” by providing “improved vaccine coverage” and “reaching under-served populations”.