Vaxxas: Brisbane’s biotech rethinking vaccination

Image showing VAXXAS needle-free vaccination being used on person's shoulder

For more than a decade, Brisbane-based company Vaxxas has been quietly innovating in the biotech space. In 2022 the company’s novel platform technology, which has the potential to transform vaccination globally, was recognised with the Accenture Australia Award for Product Innovation at the Lord Mayor’s Business Awards.

Founded in 2011 based on technology developed at the University of Queensland and the idea of making vaccination better for the individual and more equitable for all, today Vaxxas’ needle-free vaccine patch technology is recognised as world-leading.

When applied to the skin in a small applicator device, the proprietary patch covered in thousands of tiny vaccine-coated microprojections, delivers the vaccine to the abundant immune cells that are naturally present just below the skin surface.

A part of Brisbane’s burgeoning biotech and medtech sectors, Vaxxas’ growth has been supported by the city’s infrastructure, talent pool and world class facilities including its current home at the Translational Research Institute at Woolloongabba. 

Vaxxas’ Chief Technology Officer Dr Angus Forster said receiving the Lord Mayor’s Business Award was a real honour and highlighted the important work being done by the team and local life sciences sector.  

“There’s a lot of exciting innovation and initiatives happening right across Brisbane and South East Queensland. We’re grateful to be part of this vibrant business community,” Dr Forster said. 

Rethinking vaccination

Vaxxas’ innovative technology has the potential to do more than just ease patient anxiety associated with traditional needle and syringe vaccination.

The company’s proprietary dry-coating vaccine delivery technology could eliminate or significantly reduce the need for refrigeration, simplifying the transport and storage process. And, the easy to use applicator could make self or lower-skilled administration possible making vaccination more accessible, particularly in lower to middle-income countries. 

The Vaxxas approach has also shown to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a vaccine. 

“Because our technology delivers the vaccine direct to the abundant immune cells just under the skin surface, our research shows an equal or greater immune response can be achieved with as little as one sixth of the vaccine required for traditional needle injection,” said Dr Forster. 

“In a pandemic situation especially, this could mean more doses deployed, more quickly.”

What’s next for Vaxxas?

Vaxxas currently has three Phase I clinical trials underway including its own needle-free COVID-19 vaccine patch and a seasonal influenza vaccine.  

“In parallel to these clinical studies, we’re also advancing our commercial-scale manufacturing capacity with our new biomedical facility in Brisbane due to open later this month,” Dr Forster said.

The 120 strong Vaxxas team will begin relocating to the new, state-of-the-art facility in Northshore from March. When fully operational, Vaxxas expects to manufacture millions of vaccine patch devices each year from the facility for late-stage clinical trial and early commercial use.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the support Vaxxas has had, and continues to receive from all levels of Government, industry and the local life science sector,” said Dr Forster.

“It’s certainly an exciting time to be a part of Brisbane’s biotech community.”

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Topics: business

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