The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded US-based biopharmaceutical company Micron Biomedical with $23.6 million to mass produce syringe-free vaccination technology.

The technology is based on administering the vaccine with soluble microneedles which are attached to the skin via a micropad-like device.

Carrying and administering these patches is easier compared to traditional injectable vaccines, especially in poor countries, where access to all children who need vaccination is problematic. But large-scale production ran into obstacles.

A test in Gambia this year showed that Micron Biomedical’s device used to administer the measles-rubella vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India, to adults, babies and toddlers is as safe and effective as the syringe and produced a corresponding immune response.

Technology ‘may help overcome major barriers to measles eradication worldwide’said James Gudchan, a senior scientist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Immunology, which is also working with Micron Biomedical.

The technology does not require a “cold chain” for transportation, nor training staff to administer the vaccine and may also help in cases of syringe phobia, the company said in a statement.

Funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support the construction of a facility that will produce 10 million microdevices per year for larger-scale testing and use, once approved by the relevant authorities.