BD Technologies and Innovation, who create next-generation technologies in Durham, NC, developed a needle-free vaccine delivery system as part of a grant supported by the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. To be viable in small villages within developing countries—which, more times than not, is where the greatest need lies—the system cannot require the use of refrigeration or electricity of any sort and it must be simple to administer by minimally-trained personnel.
Also, the system must be effective on children, ages 1-4—who are not capable of cooperation—or adults, and must be effectively kept safe from spreading disease, which can be done easily by not allowing re-use. Finally, the system must be relatively compact for shipping, it cannot require any special means of disposal, and, most importantly of all, it must have a cost-per-unit dose equal to, or, less than, existing injection methods. This posed as a grand challenge for hardware engineers.
BD Technologies turned to Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, for innovative product engineering to help its team develop the delivery system that could be tested in Phase I clinical trials. Porticos’ hardware engineering team provided new thinking and insight to discover simple solutions that were easy to prototype for laboratory testing, ultimately helping BD extend its intellectual property based on the Solovent platform.
The process Porticos took to get to this point was keeping in mind the core needs of BD while emphasizing the need for fast, flawless production, accuracy in the findings of the testing process, and continuing to elevate the need for simplicity.
The approach Porticos ultimately pursued was aerosolizing a dose of powdered vaccine for inhalation, using a simple device constructed of basic yet effective materials. BD utilized its Solovent unit’s dry dose powder inhaler (DPI) platform to aerosolize the powder, and needed a means of containing the cloud of vaccine, while simultaneously providing an interface for effective delivery to patients.
Because of the efficiency of Porticos’ engineers and the concept design behind the entire process, BD Technologies was able to effectively execute their desire for a needle-free vaccine delivery system, and it is cost-effective, not dependent on electricity, and able to be administered by even the most inexperienced personnel.