Queensland scientists are testing a needle-free COVID-19 vaccine patch. 

University of Queensland (UQ) scientists have successfully protected mice from the COVID-19 virus by administering a US-developed vaccine candidate with a patch.

The Hexapro vaccine candidate – delivered via the UQ-developed and Vaxxas-commercialised high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP) – provided protection against COVID-19 disease with a single, pain-free ‘click’ from a pocket-sized applicator.

The patch produced strong immune responses that were shown to be effective when the mice were exposed to SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19.

In fact, using the HD-MAP applicator – rather than a needle – produced better and faster immune responses.

“It also neutralises multiple variants, including the UK and South Africa variants… and it’s much more user-friendly than a needle – you simply ‘click’ an applicator on the skin, and 5,000 microscopic projections almost-imperceptibly deliver vaccine into the skin,” says Dr David Muller from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences. 

The UQ team is now looking for funding opportunities to accelerate to clinical trials as soon as possible.

“Hexapro, delivered by the high-density microarray patch, could dramatically assist global vaccine rollout effort, particularly for billions of vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries,” Dr Muller says.

“We’ve shown this vaccine, when dry-coated on a patch, is stable for at least 30 days at 25 degrees Celsius and one week at 40 degrees, so it doesn’t have the cold chain requirements of some of the current options.”

More information is accessible here.