After clean water and sanitation, vaccines are the technology that has played the largest role in prolonging human lifespans. However, it is estimated that around 10% of the world’s population has Trypanophobia (the phobia of needles). This significantly affects the number of people who will choose to be vaccinated. Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that approximately 1.3 million deaths per year are caused by needlestick injury from re-used or unsanitary needles.
Needleless vaccination technology for administering medication is a broad concept that includes delivering vaccinations through the skin. Mark Kendall, a biomedical engineer at the University of Queensland, Australia gave a TED talk about the needleless injection method developed by his team called the Nanopatch. The Nanopatch uses up to 4000 projections (micro-needles) on a coin-sized sticker-like device to administer a dose of medicine.
History of vaccination technology:
The original needle and syringe are often cited to be invented by Scottish inventor Alexander Wood in 1853, closely resembles the receptacle still used today for vaccinations.
In 1947 Arthur E Smith filed for 8 US patents related to a disposable syringe. To mitigate against the consequences of cross-contamination.
The first needle and syringe intended for vaccination use were only patented in 1962 by Benjamin A. Rubin.
See a collection of these patents in this shared PatBase folder: https://www.patbase.com/getimg/offline/?f=FOLDER_rad5FFEE.tmpPBWEBSERV2247720.81_2020_7_2
What are the benefits of this disruptive technology?
Kendall claims there is improved immune responsiveness using the Nanopatch. Immune cells live in upper layers of the skin and therefore it requires a lower dosage for medicines to be administered through the upper layers of skin compared to needle injected vaccinations which injects into muscle tissue. This lower dosage can make vaccines cheaper and more effective as less medicine is required in each patch for the same level or improved effectiveness.
Interestingly, the Nanopatch design was inspired by semi-conductor technology so it can be mass-produced easily, further reducing the cost per patch compared to a vaccine injection.
Liquid vaccines in syringes need to be refrigerated from production to injection. This poses logistical challenges to get a vaccine to remote areas. Vaccines can become too hot or too cold which will affect their effectiveness. A key attribute of the Nanopatch is that the medicine used is dried and coated on the projections as a powder. It has been tested that they can then be stored in 23 degrees Celsius for up to a year without any decline in effectiveness. This makes it easier to transport vaccines to remote areas.
Patent Analysis with PatBase:
PatBase is a powerful global patent search and analytics platform. To explore this topic area of needleless vaccines, the PatBase search query used for this example is:
TAC=(((needleless or needle less or needle free) and (vaccin* or inject*)) or (microprojection or micro projection)) AND IPC=(A61 OR C07 OR C12)
This query combines related keywords and International Patent Classification codes related to medicine, organic chemistry and biochemistry. There are 1786 patent families for this query presently.
Using PatBase Analytics we can generate graphs using data from this result set.
Is this a growing area of interest?
Looking at the last 25 years of patent applications and grants in this technology area, the number of granted patents have an upwards trend, this could suggest the quality of the applications is improving. The number of patent applications remains steady.
Please note that the figures for 2019 may not reflect the final counts for applications and grants, as the publication of a patent document can take up to 18 months.
Some market researchers predict the needleless vaccine market will grow following the development of a vaccination for COVID-19 so that medication can be distributed more cheaply and easily. This comes at a time when existing solutions such as Kendall’s Nanopatch have demonstrated effectiveness in trials and are reportedly moving into the mass production stage.
Where are patents being filed?
The top jurisdictions for this vaccination technology patent group are the US, China and Japan. Followed by Canada, Australia and Germany, with South Korea and Spain also among the top.
Discover more insights with PatBase
This article shows just a few of the possible functionalities of Minesoft’s powerful integrated analytics tool, PatBase Analytics. The global patent database, PatBase, is a comprehensive solution for research. Coverage of 106 jurisdictions, including 74 full-text collections makes PatBase one of the leading patent databases available for complete and clean data. With the right search strategy, PatBase Analytics can uncover meaningful insights into patent data which can be used to support business-critical decisions and evaluate the competitive market. To read more information on PatBase and to register for a two-week free trial, click here: https://minesoft.com/our-products/patbase/