A Princeton-led technology to improve the storage and transport of lifesaving vaccines and medicines at room temperature has been selected as one of three university innovations to receive funding for further development from the University City Science Center in Philadelphia.
The innovation, a system for rapid room temperature dehydration of vaccines and biopharmaceuticals, uses ultra-fine droplet aerosols to convert vaccines and drugs to dry form, eliminating the need for costly refrigeration or freezing . The technology was developed by Princeton Research Scholar Maksim Mezhericher in collaboration with Peter Howard, Donald R. Dixon ’69 of Princeton and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
The Princeton team was selected from among 12 participants at the Science Center’s QED proof of concept program receive a $200,000 grant to advance the technologies. The Science Center will provide half of the funds, with the rest provided by the researchers’ institutions.
Winners also benefit from access to an experienced team of business advisors, exposure to investors and industry representatives, and access to regulatory and legal specialists to advance their technologies to the next stage. of development.
The QED program connects academic researchers with investors and industry experts who advise on how to turn life science discoveries into products and services that benefit human health.
As a participant in the QED program, the Princeton team has met regularly over the past few months with business advisors and professionals to allow the team to develop a business plan and define the steps to bring the innovation to customers.
At the end of the program, a committee of investors and industry reviewed each project’s technical proposal, business plan and pitch, and selected the Princeton team and two other university teams for the award. of financing. Projects were judged in part on the potential to demonstrate significant improvement over existing available technologies.
“This award exemplifies our shared goal with the Science Center to turn academic research into impactful solutions,” said John Ritter, Director of Technology License at Princeton.
The Princeton team’s technology has the potential to reduce the cost and improve the reliability of vaccines and biologic drugs, including several cancer therapies, which are temperature sensitive because they contain compounds derived from living organisms. During transport and distribution, these therapeutic products must be transferred from one refrigerator or freezer to another, maintaining a “cold chain”.
Solutions to the cold chain challenge could make vaccines and therapies more widely available to patients. In 2019, 45% of new FDA drug approvals were for temperature-sensitive products. In 2020, the total global revenue of cold chain pharmaceuticals was over $340 billion.
The process could also result in reduced maintenance costs and space requirements associated with expensive freezing equipment, and reduce the need to train employees to work with temperature-sensitive therapies.
Dehydration technology involves applying a patented atomization technique to create submicron droplets 10 to 1,000 times smaller than those generated by commercial nozzles and nebulizers. Compared to existing approaches, the Princeton team’s technology is simpler, faster, more scalable and less expensive, involving much lower energy consumption and less environmental impact.
Early progress in technology development received support from the New Jersey Health Foundation and the New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science.
“We are extremely excited to continue to develop our innovative technology, which we believe has the potential to dramatically improve the ability of lifesaving medicines and vaccines to reach the people who need them,” said Mezhericher, “especially in remote areas where it is difficult to maintain cold temperatures.
The QED program, from the Latin quod erat demonstrandum, or “what is shown”, provides expert advice on commercial, patent and regulatory matters as well as access to the Science Center’s network of investors and partners. The program aims to develop early-stage life science technologies from universities that have joined the Science Center, an organization that helps discoveries become viable commercial enterprises by working with academic institutions in New Jersey, of Pennsylvania and Delaware. Princeton became a Science Center University Partner in 2020.
For more information on this technology, contact Dr. Maksim Mezhericher,
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, [email protected]