Verapido Medical GmbH is a medical device company based in Villingen-Schwenningen (Germany) that develops and manufactures devices with which liquid drugs can be administered intradermally, i.e. into the skin rather than below the skin. The company’s microneedle technology looks to have several advantages over existing drug delivery methods, including better effect, less pain for the patient and lower costs.
Liquid drugs can be administered in different ways, through intramuscular, intravenous and subcutaneous routes. Drugs can also be administered via the intradermal route by injecting the drug into layers of the skin. “Intradermal injections are not yet widely used as there is no technology that would allow the simple, safe and fast administration of drugs into the dermis,” explained Dr. Markus Clemenz, founder and managing director of Verapido Medical GmbH.
Intradermal injections need to be carried out manually, at least for the time being. “This is associated with several disadvantages, including the lack of standardisation and reproducibility as well as imprecision in terms of injection depth. Moreover, it is a rather difficult procedure and is associated with discomfort for the patient,” said Clemenz. In order to change this, Verapido Medical GmbH is developing and manufacturing a medical device for intradermal injection and infusion. The company’s globally patented microneedle technology has the potential to make the delivery of drugs not only painless, but also cheaper.
Intradermal delivery of drugs involves the use of an injection needle that only delivers the drug into the upper skin layer. The procedure is therefore minimally invasive, less painful than other procedures and also helps reduce the potential of scarring and infection. Intradermally delivered biotech molecules such as insulin, antibodies, proteins and hormones can rapidly be absorbed by the body, resulting in higher bioavailability. “In order for subcutaneously administered antibodies to accumulate to any significant extent in the body, enzymes (hyaluronidases) that degrade subcutaneous tissue are occasionally added. These enzymes do not need to be added when drugs are administered intradermally,” said Clemenz.
Skin has a large quantity of immune cells. The advantage of this is that drugs that are injected into the skin can act directly and efficiently on the immune system, something that is of particular advantage for vaccinations. “Clinical trials have shown that the intradermal delivery of vaccines can save up to 90% of the standard vaccine dose at the same time as having the same or an improved effect,” Clemenz said.
“A paradigm shift can be observed among scientists and doctors. Greater emphasis is now being placed on targeting drugs to the site of action in order to increase the drugs’ effect and reduce adverse reactions. All therapies and applications targeting the skin, the immune and lymphatic systems can in future be applied intradermally, in theory. “Immunologists favour the application of vaccines and immunotherapies through the intradermal route as the skin is also the natural entry point of pathogens into the body. The body’s immune system in the skin responds to the vaccines in a very similar way as it responds to natural pathogens,” said Clemenz.
Verapido Medical GmbH’s prototype for intradermal drug delivery consists of a very thin, steel microcannula with an outer diameter of only 0.3 mm, which is protected in a plastic casing. A commercial syringe can be connected with the device by way of a standard connection. The device is then placed on the skin and the cannula inserted into the skin at an acute angle. Slight pressure is applied and the drug is released in the dermis at a depth of 0.7 mm. After administration of the drug, the cannula is automatically retracted into the casing where it is protected. “The patient hardly feels anything thanks to the thin needle and flat stitch. Skin folds that may form can be smoothed down by slightly withdrawing the needle. This prevents fluid from flowing back into the injection channel after application of the drug.
“Some drugs suitable for intradermal administration are nearing marketing approval,” said Clemenz. In addition to Verapido Medical, there are several other companies currently developing devices for delivering drugs into the skin. “Our competitors inject the drugs perpendicularly into the skin. The disadvantage of this is that a short injection channel is created. Moreover, the channels do not close again as they do when our system is used, which enables the liquid to escape again. This is why only small volumes of up to 100 µl can be administered,” said Clemenz. In contrast to its competitors’ technology, Verapido Medical’s technology is water-tight and prevents liquid from flowing back through the injection channel after administration.
The company’s device also has the potential to be used for other applications. In addition to the intradermal injection device, Verapido Medical is currently working on the development of a device for continuous infusion. This device can be used for insulin pumps, amongst other things. “We are also planning to develop devices for application in veterinary medicine, subcutaneous self-injections, the administration of botox and insulin, as well as for hypodermoclysis, which is the minimally invasive subcutaneous administration of fluids to the body,” said Clemenz highlighting the company’s future plans.
Verapido Medical GmbHVerapido Medical GmbH was spun out of the HSG-IMIT in April 2013 with funds from the German Ministry of Economics and Energy's EXIST Transfer of Research programme. It develops devices for intradermal injection and infusion. Verapido Medical is working on advancing the technology, which was originally developed at the HSG-IMIT, into marketable commodities and serial production. The company continues to work closely with the HSG-IMIT.
Further information:Verapido Medical GmbHDr. med. Markus ClemenzWilhelm-Schickard-Str. 1078052 Villingen-SchwenningenTel.: +49 (7721) 943-141Fax: +49 (7721) 943-234E-mail: markus.clemenz(at)verapido.com