Piezo Therapeutics

Industry: Vaccine and drug delivery system

ePatch is a new way to deliver mRNA vaccines and other gene-based therapies into cells. It works by applying brief electric pulses to cells using microneedles, which can destabilize the cell membrane and allow materials like nucleic acids to enter the cells.

The microneedles are closely spaced and very short (<1 mm), which focuses the electric field just below the skin surface where the target cell population is located in the epidermis. This superficial localization of the electric field also prevents electrical stimulation of nerves and muscles found in deeper tissue that could cause pain or twitching.

In preliminary studies, ePatch demonstrated robust safety and efficacy delivering fluorescent reporter encoding plasmids and a SARS-CoV-2 DNA vaccine. The technology has comparable transfection efficiency to a commercial electroporator with better safety (less inflammation, redness, swelling, pain) in rats and mice. In a SARS-CoV-2 DNA vaccine study, ePatch demonstrated robust humoral immune responses with at least 10-fold dose sparing, protection against a pseudovirus boosted from 20% to 90%, and complete skin recovery within 3 hours.

Current mRNA vaccine delivery technology uses lipid nanoparticles, which carry the disadvantages of high cost and limited thermostability and cargo capacity. Electroporation is another way to deliver mRNA, but it requires complex, bulky and expensive devices that are not portable.

By contrast, ePatch is a simple, inexpensive (<$1 USD), portable (<50g), self-powered, modular microneedle electroporator that enhances gene expression by over 400-fold compared to injection alone. It is designed to be safe, affordable, and accessible.

Company website: Piezo Therapeutics

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