Australia has opened the doors to a vaccine skin patch manufacturing facility in hopes to reduce the complexities and costs associated with existing vaccines and be better position the country for future pandemics.
Situated in Brisbane’s riverside suburb of Hamilton, biotechnology company Vaxxas expects to manufacture and distribute the first commercially available vaccine patches within three to five years.
The skin patches increase accessibility by allowing vaccines to be administered in remote areas without access to trained medical staff and refrigeration, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.
“This world-renowned technology has the potential to play a vital role in pandemic preparedness because it allows vaccines to be deployed quickly and easily to our communities,” he said at the facility opening on June 19.
The patches can potentially be self-administered to deposit a vaccine through the surface of the skin in just seconds. They can also remain stable at room temperature.
The facility will operate as a global headquarters and biomedical facility in a custom-built, 5,500 square meter (60,000 square feet) state government backed-building.
Vaxxas’ vaccine patch technology platform has completed several human clinical trials involving more than 500 participants and is advancing rapidly towards commercialisation, Chief Executive Officer David Hoey said.
“The facility’s opening marks a significant milestone for Vaxxas, which was founded in 2011 on research from The University of Queensland (UQ),” Hoey said.
Vaxxas was established to develop the high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP) vaccine technology at UQ.
In addition, Vaxxas also has ongoing Australian Phase I clinical studies for COVID-19 and seasonal influenza, and other vaccine studies targeting pandemic influenza funded by the United States Government and a measles-rubella study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation expected to start in 2024.
Miles said the facility, in its early stage, would create up to 200 local well-paid jobs.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to supporting homegrown biomedical start-ups to scale up successfully and ensure we keep this innovation and our best and brightest researchers on home soil,” he said.
“Vaxxas is a terrific example of a local success story that will create highly-skilled jobs in a fast-growing global industry and supercharge the state’s economy.”
Queensland recently announced a partnership between UQ and Emory University in Atlanta at a global biotech conference in the U.S. on June 7 in hopes to become a major international vaccine hub.
“The focus will be on rapid progression to the clinical trial of a scaled-up number of vaccine candidates for the treatment of Asia-Pacific region viruses and infectious diseases, along with pandemic preparedness,” UQ’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said.
“Biotech companies from around the world will be able to come to Brisbane to take advantage of the facilities already established and work with the 300-plus researchers associated with the Emory and UQ partnership.”