COVID-19: what is behind the innovative vaccination patch?

While mRNA, vector and inactivated vaccines are particularly focused on antibody production, the vaccine from British pharmaceutical manufacturer Emergex is designed to train the T cells of the immune system in particular.

The new vaccine is on the right track: the Swiss Medicines Agency gave the go-ahead for a first clinical study. From the beginning of January, 26 people are to receive a low and high dose of the vaccine – the first interim results are to be published in June 2022.

A special kind of vaccine: training the T cells

The focus of previous vaccines was on a high antibody reaction, which is supposed to ward off the virus before it penetrates human cells. In most cases, booster vaccinations are necessary to maintain and stabilize vaccination protection. The novel vaccine, on the other hand, focuses on the T cells of the immune system.

T cells, also called thymus cells, recognize body cells that are infected by a virus or other pathogen. To stop the spread of the pathogens in the body, they kill the infected cells.

This is how the vaccine is created: With the help of the smallest and permeable carrier systems made of nanogold, the non-activated (naïve) T cells are offered a selected range of proteins (peptides) in order to stimulate a learning process. As a result, a large number of T cells are generated, which identify pathogens as quickly as possible and prevent infections. The immune reaction should thus be better prepared for virus variants than with previous vaccines and offer long-lasting immune protection.

Vaccination patches – no more fear of injections

The new vaccine is not only based on an innovative concept in its composition – the vaccine should also be administered differently than previous vaccines. The  active ingredient  is supposed to get into the skin with the help of a skin patch the size of a thumbnail, which is equipped with microneedles. The vaccine should be stable for up to three months at room temperature.

Market launch at the earliest in 2025

The special type of vaccine has not yet been approved. If the first study results show effectiveness, the market launch can be expected in 2025 at the earliest.


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