German pharmaceutical company Lohmann Therapie-Systeme (LTS) has received a $1.2m grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop new formulations for administering messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) therapies.

The grant will be dispersed over 15 months and fund the development of mRNA administration technologies such as dissolvable microneedle array patches (MAPs), which are thermostable and can be superimposed onto dermal patches. The current mRNA vaccines require frozen storage and are administered via an injection.

The incorporation of mRNA into dissolvable MAPs can potentially increase the thermostability of the vaccine and improve its ease of administration. This can also improve access to these therapies for people in low-income and middle-income countries.

The mRNA vaccines were instrumental during the Covid-19 pandemic. The two scientists whose research allowed for the development of mRNA vaccines were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in October. There has been increased interest in mRNA therapies beyond the vaccines. GlobalData forecasts the mRNA non-vaccine therapeutics field to reach $2bn by 2028.

A preclinical study of an mRNA/LNP MAP-based rabies vaccine showed a reduction in cold-chain requirements from -80ºC to 2-8ºC with the use of MAP compared to an injectable formulation. The data was presented at the World Vaccine Congress in Barcelona in October 2023.

Dr Frank Theobald, head of the MAP Program at LTS said: “LTS has made great progress recently with its MAP Program with respect to pre-clinical and clinical data, taking steps towards the up-scaling and commercialisation of the MAP technology. LTS believes that MAPs will be a breakthrough technology for improving vaccination coverage in LMICs.”

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By GlobalData

In June, LTS acquired Sorrel’s wearable injection device business. The acquisition added a large molecule drug delivery platform to LTS’s portfolio of drug delivery systems.

Another company developing transdermal patches for mRNA vaccines is Vaxess Technology. In September, the company raised $9m to develop a MIMIX sustained release patch. Vaxess reported patch stabilisation results, showing no difference in vaccine efficacy when stored at room temperatures (25°C and 37°C) compared to liquid mRNA control.