KGI Highlights: Professor Develops Oral Vaccination Device Published in Science Translational Medicine

“Vaccination patients could one day self-administer their vaccines using a needleless, pill-sized technology that jet releases a stream of vaccine inside the mouth, according to a proof-of-concept study conducted by Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) assistant professor Kiana Aran.

Aran developed the technology while a post-doctoral scholar at UC Berkeley in the labs of Dorian Liepmann, professor of mechanical and bioengineering and Niren Murthy, professor of bioengineering. In January 2017, Aran started her new role as assistant professor at KGI in Claremont.

Aran’s study did not test vaccine delivery in people, but demonstrated that the technology, called MucoJet, is capable of delivering vaccine-sized molecules to immune cells in the oral cavity of animals. The technology is a step toward improved oral vaccine delivery, which holds the promise of building immunity in the mouth’s buccal region of cells, where many infections enter the body. When a patient holds the MucoJet against their cheek, the device releases a jet stream that directly targets the buccal region. This region is rich in immune cells but underutilized in immunology because of the challenge of efficiently penetrating the thick mucosal layer in this part of the oral cavity with existing technologies, such as the oral spray often used for influenza vaccination.

In laboratory and animal experiments, the research team showed that the MucoJet can deliver a high-pressure stream of liquid and immune system-triggering molecules that penetrate the mucosal layer to stimulate an immune response in the buccal region. The spray is pressurized, but not uncomfortably so, and would remove the sting of needles.”