Professor Mark Kendall, an inaugural ARC Future Fellow who has also received support from the ARC Discovery Projects scheme, developed ‘Nanopatch’. Nanopatch is a small square of silicon that sticks on the skin like a postage stamp and delivers vaccine directly to the body’s immune system.

Professor Kendall’s method of vaccine delivery has important advantages compared to traditional syringes—it is painless, requires a fraction of the dose, and does not need refrigeration during transportation and storage.

Professor Kendall’s research and development has led to The University of Queensland spin-out biotechnology company, Vaxxas. In 2014 Vaxxas signed an agreement with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to trial the Nanopatch delivery system for polio vaccines.

Currently, polio vaccines are delivered around the world in liquid form, and administered either orally or through a needle and syringe. While there remain only a handful of countries that have never stopped transmission of polio (primarily Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria), as long as a single case of polio infection remains, all countries risk an outbreak in their unimmunised populations. The WHO predicts that an international resurgence could lead to as many as 200,000 cases a year within a decade.

Professor Mark Kendall’s pioneering needle-free immunisation technology has been recognised nationally and internationally. Most recently, he received the 2016 CSL Young Florey Medal. Professor Kendall’s research group also received the Eureka Prize for Research by an Interdisciplinary Team in 2011 and won the 2011 Australian Innovation Challenge.

Image: Researchers with Nanopatch.
Image courtesy: The University of Queensland.