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CEPI partners with biotech Jurata Thin Film to create needle-free mRNA vaccines and improve access

05 Dec 2023

By CEPI


Jurata Thin Film, Credit: Jurata

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Thermostable vaccine technology could end need for frozen vaccine storage, expanding global access to mRNA LNP vaccines and supporting future pandemic response efforts.

Vaccine-loaded thin films administered under the tongue could help avoid complexities that can come with standard needle-and-syringe administration.

 

5 December 2023, OSLO, Norway and CHAPEL HILL, NC – The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has partnered with Jurata Thin Film, Inc. (Jurata) to advance development of Jurata’s thermostable under-the-tongue mRNA vaccine films as a needle-free vaccine delivery platform. CEPI will provide up to an initial US $1.2 million to support Jurata’s proprietary innovative formulation platform which, if shown to be successful, could help expand access to mRNA vaccines in underserved regions and advance the global response to future emerging infectious disease outbreaks.

mRNA vaccine technologies were critical in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling rapid development and manufacturing of billions of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine doses. However, to maintain vaccine potency, these vaccines had to be stored and distributed at below-zero temperatures, making them extremely difficult to deliver to remote areas or low-resource settings, which commonly lack the infrastructure and technologies needed to support these temperatures. This has limited global access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, exacerbating pandemic suffering.

Jurata aims to improve vaccine accessibility to remote regions by stabilising the 3D structure of mRNA-containing lipid nanoparticle (LNP) vaccine materials, provided by Quantoom Biosciences, part of Univercells, into a thin thermostable film, thereby removing frozen storage needs. The vaccine films are also lightweight and compact, simplifying the transportation process and potentially allowing for more doses to be shipped at any one time compared to current needle-and-syringe distribution.

CEPI’s initial funding will support optimising the composition and process of creating Jurata’s thin films, as well as preclinical studies to assess whether their film formulation can effectively stabilise mRNA vaccines and deliver them via placement under the tongue. If successful in preclinical trials, and potential later clinical trials, this specialised needle-free delivery option could help promote vaccine uptake in areas of vaccine hesitancy and reduce the need for vaccine delivery specialists by enabling self-administration.

Vaccine distribution is just as important as vaccine development in response to an emerging crisis – so, while mRNA quickly became one of the technological ‘shining stars’ during the COVID-19 pandemic, global access to doses was majorly hindered by its frozen storage needs.

Jurata’s proprietary thin films have the potential to transform the way in which we store, deliver, and distribute mRNA vaccines, advancing CEPI’s pandemic preparedness plan to accelerate the speed and scale of our response to future epidemics and pandemics, and heighten access to vaccine doses. Elimination of complex cold-chain requirements could also help limit global vaccine wastage, as doses no longer need to be discarded after being exposed to extreme temperatures.

Ingrid Kromann

Acting Director of Vaccine Manufacturing and Supply Chain, CEPI

Our stabilising formulations have the potential to facilitate global access to mRNA vaccines and our thin film delivery platform could make vaccine administration far easier than needle-and-syringe injections. We are grateful to CEPI for supporting our innovative technology and look forward to working with Quantoom to show the breadth of mRNA vaccines our technology can stabilise and deliver.

Dr. Irnela Bajrovic

Chief Scientific Officer, Jurata

Enabling equitable access to vaccines

Both CEPI and Jurata are committed to enabling equitable access to any vaccine outputs developed through this partnership. Under the terms of the agreement, Jurata has committed to ensuring supply for the Global South, production of vaccine volumes required to meet public health needs, affordable pricing for the Global South, and the potential technology transfer to Global South manufacturers in line with CEPI’s Equitable Access Policy.

This is the fourth partner to be announced as part of CEPI’s Call for Proposals for thermostable vaccine manufacturing innovations, announced in January 2022. Awardees were selected based on their innovative technology, ease of use, and potential accessibility to the Global South without affecting factors like costs or capacity. Additional partners are expected to be announced soon.

Ends

Notes to Editors

Under the terms of the agreement with CEPI, Jurata will create vaccine films to remain stable at temperatures of 2-8 degrees, 25 degrees, and 40 degrees. Jurata will optimise the composition of the films through testing various buffers, pH, stabilisers, sugars, salts, and different drying parameters and assessing how this affects vaccine stability and delivery.

The ability for vaccines to withstand heat exposure has been identified as the most desired characteristic for vaccines used in outreach and campaign settings by experienced immunisation staff. Thermostable vaccines are also identified as a preferred vaccine characteristic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

About CEPI 

CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017. Its mission is to accelerate the development of vaccines and other biologic countermeasures against epidemic and pandemic threats so they can be accessible to all people in need.

CEPI has supported the development of over 30 vaccine candidates against its priority pathogens—Chikungunya virus, Ebola Virus Disease, Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever virus and SARS-CoV-2—and is a leading funder of research into broadly protective coronavirus vaccines, which could protect against future variants of COVID-19 as well as other coronaviruses with epidemic and pandemic potential. The organization has also invested in the development of rapid response platforms to develop vaccines against Disease X (the threat of an unknown virus).

CEPI has contributed to a number of scientific breakthroughs, including the first ever licensed Chikungunya vaccine and the advancement of the first ever Nipah and Lassa vaccines into Phase 1 trials. The organization played a central role in the global response to COVID-19, supporting the development of one of the world’s largest portfolios of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, seven of which have been approved for domestic or global use. It also co-led COVAX, the global initiative to deliver fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, which has delivered approximately 2 billion doses of vaccine to 146 countries around the world.

CEPI’s five-year plan for 2022-2026 aims to dramatically reduce or even eliminate the future risk of pandemics and epidemics. Central to the plan is CEPI’s goal to compress the time taken to develop safe, effective, globally accessible vaccines against new threats to just 100 days. Achieving this ‘100 Days Mission’, which has been embraced by the G7 and G20, would give the world a fighting chance of containing a future outbreak before it can spread to become a global pandemic.

Visit our news page for the latest updates. Follow us via @CEPIvaccines@DrRHatchettLinkedIn, and Facebook.

 

About Jurata Thin Films, Inc.

Founded in 2019, Jurata Thin Film, Inc. is a privately-held biotechnology company working to revolutionize the way vaccines and biologics are manufactured, stored, distributed, and delivered to all who need them around the world. Jurata’s thin films have the potential to store therapeutics at room temperature for up to three years prior to reconstitution, and for up to eight months after reconstitution while maintaining therapeutic payload potency. Their technology has also been proven to protect its cargo even when exposed to extreme temperatures, as is often the case during shipment and distribution.

For more information on Jurata and their thin film technology, visit https://www.juratatf.com.

 

About Univercells

Univercells is a global life sciences company with the mission of making biologics accessible to all. Using our combined expertise in scaling, production, and bioprocessing, Univercells finds new and sustainable ways to widen access to life-changing drugs. Our affiliate companies deploy innovations in infrastructure, drug substance manufacturing, equipment manufacturing, equipment design, training, and on-the-ground health services to drive down costs, shrink manufacturing footprints and meet the needs of the entire health value chain. Headquartered in Jumet (Belgium), Univercells is supported by regional and national investors, as well as international investors active in vaccines and healthcare, such as the European Investment Bank and Global Health Investment Fund, among others.

www.univercells.com

 

Media Contacts

CEPI:

[email protected]

+44 7387 055214

 

Jurata:

[email protected]


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