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Small Biz Award Funds Wearable Drug Delivery Patch

SatioRx wearable drug and vaccine delivery device, worn on the arm

SatioRx device (Satio Inc.)

26 Sept. 2023. A developer of medical devices designed as skin patches received a contract to develop a device to deliver any drug approved by FDA for delivery through the skin. Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health or ARPA-H awarded Satio Inc. in Boston $3.5 million to develop the remotely activated and disposable drug-delivery patch device.

The SatioRx device, says the company, seeks to make vaccine and drug delivery through the skin easier and less painful for individuals. The device, says Satio, uses a single design to deliver a wide array of liquid drugs or vaccines in standard vials with microscale needles that penetrate only the outer skin layers without causing pain, but still reach blood vessels to deliver the payloads. The company says it makes SatioRx for people in their homes, where the device can be activated to deliver a precise drug dose through telemedicine without having to visit a clinic.

Satio says its patch device can be particularly helpful for vaccine delivery. Delivery through the skin, says the company, enables lower doses of vaccines, reducing the risk of many adverse effects. Home administration of vaccines would reduce the need for clinic visits and make it easier for people with fear of conventional syringe needles, as well as speed delivery of vaccines to remote areas to better combat public health emergencies.

Small Business Innovation Research award

ARPA-H is the U.S. government’s advanced research agency for encouraging development of high-impact health technologies that meet pressing public needs not easily addressed through conventional methods. The agency, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or HHS, is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with projects that recruit multiple performers to address specific health challenges.

For Satio, the ARPA-H project is a Small Business Innovation Research or SBIR contract, where the agency sets-aside part of its research funds for U.S.-based small businesses. In this case, the award calls for development of a disposable drug delivery device, worn on the skin, with microscale needles for delivery into the blood stream. The patch device would enable delivery of any drug or vaccine approved by FDA for liquid delivery though the skin. As specified by ARPA-H, the device would also be activated by remote signals through telemedicine.

“At-home drug and vaccine delivery,” says Satio founder and executive chair Namal Nawana in a company statement, “offer transformational potential for better outcomes, efficiency, and lowering of overall costs of health care. The SatioRx novel design incorporates proprietary technologies to remotely deliver a broad range of drugs and vaccines transdermally.” Nawana is also founder of Sapphiros, an investor in diagnostics and other medical device companies, including Satio.

Satio is developing as well a family of wearable blood collection systems from simple dried blood dots to blood sample collection and combination blood draws and diagnostics. In Aug. 2023, Satio receive a contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority or BARDA, also part of HHS, to adapt the company’s integrated blood draw and diagnostic device to detect Ebola virus infections.

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