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VaxiPatch™, a novel vaccination system comprised of subunit antigens, adjuvants and microneedle skin delivery: An application to influenza B/Colorado/06/2017


All seasonal influenza vaccines for 2021–2022 in the US were quadrivalent and the market continues to be dominated by intramuscular delivery of non-adjuvanted, virion-derived antigens grown in chicken eggs. Up to four new egg-adapted production influenza vaccine strains must be generated each year. The introduction in 2012 of Flucelvax®, which is grown in mammalian suspension cell culture and uses vaccine production strains without adaptive mutations for efficient growth in eggs, represented a major advance in vaccine production technology. Here we demonstrate that Flucelvax can be reformulated and combined with a liposomal adjuvant containing QS-21 (Verndari Adjuvant System 1.1, VAS1.1) or QS-21 and 3D-PHAD (VAS1.2) for intradermal administration using a painless skin patch, VaxiPatch™. VAS1.2 is similar to AS01B, the adjuvant system used in Shingrix® and Mosquirix™. We show that Flucelvax, when reformulated and concentrated using tangential flow filtration (TFF), maintains hemagglutination and single radial immunodiffusion (SRID) potency. Loading the reformulated Flucelvax material onto VaxiPatch arrays conferred high levels of resistance to heat stress and room temperature stability. TFF enriched vaccine antigens were combined with VAS1.1 or VAS1.2 and dispensed in 10nL drops into the pockets of 36 (total 360 nL) stainless steel microneedles arranged in a microarray 1.2 cm in diameter. Using VaxiPatch delivery of 2 µg of antigen, we demonstrated intramusuclar-comparable IgG and hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) immune responses in Sprague Dawley® rats. With addition of VAS1.2, antigen-specific IgG titers were increased as much as 68-fold (47-fold for VAS1.1) with improvements in seroconversion for three of four strains (all four were improved by VAS1.1). TFF-reformulated antigens combined with VAS1.1 or VAS1.2 and delivered by VaxiPatch showed only minor skin reactogenicity after 1 h and no skin reactogenicity after 24 h. These data indicate that VaxiPatch and the VAS system have the potential to be transformative for vaccine delivery.


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