SiO2 Scales Up Container Technology for COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments

June 8, 2020
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors

SiO2 Materials Science has received $143 million from the US government to accelerate capacity scale-up of its advanced primary packaging platform.

SiO2 Materials Science, a privately-owned U.S. advanced materials science corporation, has signed a $143-million agreement with the US government to accelerate scale up of its packaging technology for use in containers designed to store novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines and therapeutics. SiO2’s patented container is made of plastic but features a thin glass coating for biological drugs and vaccines. The agreement is with the Department of Defense’s Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) in partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“The nation can produce all the vaccines we want, but we must have appropriate containers to store them and deliver them to patients safely,” explained Robert S. Langer, institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and advisor to SiO2, in a company press release issued on June 8, 2020. “Many drug development and drug formulation innovations can be limited due to variables associated with traditional glass vials and syringes. The SiO2 vials and syringes … allow drug development partners to bring their innovations to life.”

The coating prevent breakage, providing thermal stability and integrity, chemical stability, a gas barrier, mechanical durability, and precision molding, according to the company’s press release. The thermal stability range is -196 ˚C to 121 ˚C, with a seal integrity down to -80 ˚C. Chemical stability allows the product to be used safely in a wide range of drug characterizations, including those operating at pH ranges from 3–14. According to designers at the company, the new vials eliminate the risk of delamination and metal ion formation, which can be observed with glass vials. In addition, the company’s designers say, its new vial’s gas-permeation properties are similar to those of glass. SiO2 vials are reported to be shatterproof and strong, and are able to withstand 1500 pounds of direct force. In addition, the company reports that its new syringes are precision molded and up to 15 times more dimensionally consistent than glass syringes. Dimensional consistency is crucial for autoinjectors and other drug delivery devices.

“The SiO2 vials solve significant challenges in the commercialization of vaccines and biological drugs, which presently cannot be solved by glass or plastic vials,” said Dr. Glenn Fredrickson, a prominent US material scientist, in the press release. “Bringing [the design and] this advanced coating to market will enable pharmaceutical manufacturers to safely and more rapidly deploy their critical products.”

SiO2’s 165,000-ft2 manufacturing plant in Auburn, AL currently employs more than 200 engineers, scientists, and technicians, and the company expects to hire 200 more.

“We’re ramping up capacity to meet customer demands and to ensure that the surge [in demand] seen due to the COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic developments can be accommodated,” said SiO2’s president of customer operations and chief business officer, Lawrence Ganti, in the press release.

Source: SiO2