www.montereycountynow.com May 9-15, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 19 Think about where big scientific breakthroughs happen, and visions of large laboratories on university campuses or inside government facilities or corporations might come to mind. Dr. David Craig Wright bucks the stereotype. His small laboratory in a former yoga studio in downtown Pacific Grove is where the infectious disease specialist is making cutting-edge discoveries, and it suits him just fine. That jab in the arm that leads to dreaded pain and swelling? It could be a thing of the past, if Wright and his team’s latest discovery, a new delivery system for vaccines, catches on. He and his team already have the patent for it, #11,911,461, awarded on Feb. 27, a process that took just seven months. It’s the 20th patent Wright has earned in a 40-year medical research career. The new patent covers a modification of the SARS-CoV-2, or Covid-19, virus the team designed and a vaccine against Covid-19 itself, along with the system to deliver the vaccine into the body. The patent also covers the fact that the vaccine can be delivered subcutaneously, or under the skin, which can be painless compared to most vaccines that must be injected into muscle. These inventions are just the beginning. The team of the locally owned company, D4 Labs, LLC, initially focused on a better Covid-19 vaccine, but now that they’ve conquered that task, Wright, D4’s chief science officer, is on a mission to prove that the technology can be used with other vaccines for flu and other diseases—including taking needles out of the equation completely. Wright, 74, is able to make these discoveries thanks to a mind that never stops asking questions, a willingness to collaborate with others and an inherent quality of playfulness. “He was a lot of fun [growing up]— he still is,” says Emily Wright, the doctor’s daughter, a teacher and scientific writer who serves on the D4 team and is named on the patent. She jokingly introduces herself as “the Dr. Wright translator,” serving to break down his complex scientific ideas into layperson’s terms. “He was always up to play whatever game I wanted to play,” Emily Wright says. Her dad would play with her and her friends on the street in front of their home. One day, one of Emily’s friends came to the door when she wasn’t there. Well then, the child asked, could her dad come out to play? That spirit of playfulness and inquisitiveness are what has led Wright and his team to their latest discovery, and it could be a game-changer for vaccines. On an overcast early spring morning in downtown P.G., Wright is outside of his offices, a combination lab and treatment clinic on Grand Avenue, waiting for a visitor and looking very much the part of a scientist in a long white lab coat and an N95 mask. “Call me Craig,” Wright says introducing himself, holding the door. Just inside to the right is a small table with more masks for visitors and the patients that come to him for treatment of infectious diseases a couple of days a week. The noticeable whir of an air purification system exchanging the air inside the building hums constantly in the background. On the wall of the lobby are Wright’s diplomas and achievements, including printouts of his 20 patents Wright in his lab, a former yoga studio, where he and Hoadley spend days conducting experiments and running tests. Wright creates his structures—microscopic spheres that can carry vaccines—in a simple procedure using syringes. Wright extracts a DTap vaccine from its bottle in preparation of loading it into the structures. The team first created their own Covid-19 vaccine and encapsulated it; now they are testing other vaccines with the same structures.