Serum Institute and Intravacc to jointly develop bioneedles

ST Correspondent
Monday, 4 June 2018

New delivery system can revolutionise vaccination campaigns

Pune: Serum Institute of India and Intravacc, part of the Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, will jointly develop bioneedles, a novel delivery system for vaccines which will cast away fears surrounding vaccines. The parties will develop bioneedles for vaccines against measles and rubella.

The bioneedle, a tiny biodegradable mini implant, is a unique approach with ground-breaking potential to transform vaccination campaigns, especially in low and middle-income countries where many misconceptions and superstitions make such campaigns unsuccessful. 

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Dr Suresh Jadhav, Executive Director, Serum Institute of India, and Thijs Veerman, CEO, Intravacc. “This project could potentially mark a major step towards vastly improved access to vaccines, especially in low and middle-income countries. We are very happy to be involved in such an innovative project with our Indian partner,” said Veerman.

Veerman said vaccines play a critical role in public health globally and for Intravacc, India is a vital market for partnerships in vaccine development. He added that bioneedles are composed of a starch-like polymer, a product that is naturally degraded by the human body. 

“Bioneedle is administered by an implantation under the skin with an applicator. The bioneedle matrix will degrade after implantation, which enables the release of the freeze-dried vaccine,” said Veerman.

“This reduces hazardous needle waste and results in a quick and pain-free delivery of the vaccine; it may even abolish the need for trained professionals to perform vaccinations, a huge benefit in developing countries where trained medical personnel are scarce,” said Veerman.

He added that vaccines in bioneedles are both freeze and heat stable and can be stored, transported and distributed outside any cold chain. Preclinical concepts of bioneedles have been established with numerous vaccines, including tetanus, polio, influenza and hepatitis B. In all cases, bioneedles filled with vaccine were able to induce potent systemic humoral immune responses against the respective antigen. 

Dr Jadhav said it is estimated that about 65 per cent of the children in the world receive at least one vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute, saving millions of lives throughout the world. “Altogether, this is a unique approach with groundbreaking potential to transform vaccinations,” said Jadhav.

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