According tomedia reports, vaccines have become an indispensable medical tool that provides protection against a growing number of diseases, but these vaccines must be kept at low temperatures to be effective. When they are distributed to remote or developing regions, this is indeed a problem. But a new approach by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin could greatly boost these efforts by storing oral vaccines in inexpensive, easy-to-transport thin dissolved membranes without refrigeration.
Transporting vaccines to remote areas and preserving them to ensure safe use is still a problem, and research groups around the world are working to overcome them. Some promising solutions that could help save millions of lives include storing them in sugary gels, freezing and drying them so that they can be stored at room temperature. The Government of Vanuatu is even studying the use of drones to transport them to remote areas.
The film developed by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin is another exciting possibility. Scientists have been able to easily produce novel and inexpensive vaccine delivery systems by drawing inspiration from the way amber preserves millions of years of biological DNA. The team tried to replicate these storage capacities in substances similar to hard sugars, which are made up of different sugars and salts to form amber-like materials.
The team made more than 450 attempts to use candy-like materials that often kill viruses or crystallize them during storage, making them unsuitable for use. Eventually, they found a working formula that could be loaded into a candy-like material and held between layers of protection that could be stripped when used.
“It’s actually a plug-and-play platform,” said Maria A. Croyle, who led the study. “Once we know the special qualities of the candidate vaccine, we can adjust the composition of the membrane to meet these requirements, suspend it and seal it in the membrane matrix so that it can withstand extreme temperature changes and release the vaccine’s ingredients in an accurate and controlled manner.” “
The team said it had demonstrated the system’s ability to carry ebola and influenza A vaccines at a proof-of-concept level, and believed it could also be used in other vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, which is still under development.
In addition to the low price, the system is about one-thousandth the size of a conventional vaccine device and does not require refrigeration during transport. The membrane can be taken orally and quickly dissolves without any trace. If widely used, millions of syringes, vials, packaging and other waste from traditional vaccination methods can be avoided.
The team has patented a newly developed dissolved film through a new start-up that will now partner with AskBio, a large pharmaceutical company, to commercialize the technology. “We are excited to work with AskBio to develop Maria’s platform technology,” said Erin Overstreet, licensing director of the Commercial Office at the University of Texas at Austin. “We believe this technology is ready to help people with rare diseases, and possibly many others, and look forward to seeing this technology benefit the public.” “
The study was published in the journal Science Advances.