Vaxess Technologies, Inc., a life sciences company developing a shelf-stable vaccine patch with potential for self-application, announced that it is collaborating with AstraZeneca for the evaluation of an RNA-based pandemic influenza prototype vaccine in patch format.

“mRNA shows significant promise for improving the speed at which pandemic influenza vaccines can be developed. However, the current need for cold storage is a limiting factor to deploy vaccines where they are most needed.” said Livio Valenti, Vaxess Co-founder and Senior Vice President.

“A refrigeration-free patch would help overcome the logistical barriers associated with cold-storage as well as simplify administration, potentially enabling at-home delivery of influenza and other pandemic vaccines. Vaxess has demonstrated that its technology can overcome these barriers and we look forward to combining the novel RNA-based vaccine in development by AstraZeneca with Vaxess’s refrigeration-free patch technology,” he said.

In June 2023, Vaxess announced positive phase I trial results from its seasonal influenza vaccine; in April 2023, it announced mRNA stability results from tests assessing the potential for room-temperature storage. The testing found that Vaxess’s silk fibroin formulations protect mRNA lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) through drying and maintain in vivo potency after storage at 37°C for two weeks.

Biosecurity threat

“Pandemic influenza is a major biosecurity threat due to its ability to rapidly spread through respiratory droplets, causing severe illnesses that could overwhelm healthcare systems around the world. The potential for the virus to mutate further adds to the complexity, making it harder to develop effective vaccines and treatments. Developing an mRNA flu vaccine that could be distributed globally is a key step in effectively preparing for pandemic influenza.” said Michael Schrader, CEO of Vaxess.

This project has been supported in whole or in part with federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services; Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response; Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), through the Department of Defense Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) under Medical CBRN Defense Consortium (MCDC) Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) number: W15QKN-16-9-1002, project agreement number MCDC2204-003. AstraZeneca and JPEO-CBRND signed the OTA in February 2023 to develop an RNA-based pandemic influenza prototype vaccine.

As a part of the resulting prototype agreement, AstraZeneca could receive up to $80 million over three years to develop the vaccine from preclinical research through a Phase I/II clinical study; the collaboration between Vaxess and AstraZeneca is part of this broader development program.