Needle-free delivery devices will shape the future of vaccines

Emerging technologies will include nanopatch vaccines that are smaller than a fingernail, says Frost & Sullivan

Drug delivery technologies that improve access and overall efficacy are becoming an essential part of the entire drug development process, and pharmaceutical companies are investing billions of dollars in new ways of delivering vaccines in a bid to move away from needles and syringes to skin delivery procedures.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, 'Needle-Free Nanopatch Vaccines', finds that though the needle-free delivery sector currently makes up a small fraction of the total drug delivery market, the next five to 10 years will see transdermal and intradermal systems (patches and degradable implants), fast-dissolving tablet vaccines, inhalers and pulmonary delivery methods change the vaccine industry.

While certain forms of needle-free vaccines, such as liquid jet injection, gene guns and micro-needles are already in use, the cell damage caused during administration and the inability to consistently and directly deliver vaccines renders such delivery methods inefficient. Nevertheless, this inefficiency opens doors for vaccine manufacturers to create and commercialise a needle-free system that is not fraught with challenges, it suggests.

The delivery of drugs through needle-free devices is gaining acceptance owing to the availability of more formulations for needle-free deliveries

'The delivery of drugs through needle-free devices is gaining acceptance owing to the availability of more formulations for needle-free deliveries,' said Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Research Analyst Swathi Allada. 'Significant advancements have been made, most of which have centred on addressing patient comfort levels and increasing the adoption of self-injectable therapies.'

The development of thermostable vaccines with a long shelf life is another area of focus for many vaccine manufacturers, especially for those marketing to nations where cold-chain storage is an issue. The nanopatch, for instance, eliminates the need for refrigeration as the thermostable vaccine is formulated in dry form, making transportation significantly cheaper than traditional needles.

'The nanopatch achieves precise, controlled and consistent skin penetration along with rapid dissolution and diffusion of the vaccine,' noted Allada. 'Early stage tests conducted on mouse models have shown that the nanopatch-delivered flu vaccine is effective even with 1/150th of the dose normally given through a traditional syringe.'

With successful testing in animals, clinical trials on humans will be needed to attain Food and Drug Administration approval. Once this happens, the technology will rapidly gain traction both among patients and physicians, ultimately changing the course of vaccine delivery globally, the analysis says.

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