Researchers at the University of McMaster have invented a stable and affordable way to store fragile vaccinations for weeks at temperatures up to 40 ° C, opening the way for life-saving anti-viral vaccines to reach remote and poor regions Of the world.
The new method combines the active principles of existing vaccinations with a sugary gel, where they remain viable for eight weeks or more, even at high temperatures.
Researchers say that the method creates light, long and compact doses that would be ideal for transporting the Ebola vaccine, for example, to affected regions in Africa. The process only adds a marginal cost to the preparation of a vaccine and eliminates almost all the transport cost of it, which can mean 80% of the total cost of inoculation.
According to the researchers, the combination of vaccines and sugars – pullulan and trehalose is almost as simple as removing the cream and sugar in the coffee. Storage technology was created by McMaster chemical engineers, who had already demonstrated their effectiveness in other applications, such as an edible coating that could extend the useful life of fruits and vegetables.
To apply the technology to vaccines, engineers collaborated with peers in the field of health sciences specializing in virology and immunology. His work is published today in the magazine Scientific reports.
"This, for us, is the final application of this technology," said lead author Vincent Leung, assistant professor of Chemical Engineering. "Imagine that something that we have worked in the laboratory could serve one day to save people's lives is very exciting."
The invention is significant, since it can replace the heavy "cold chain", the constant storage at temperatures between 2C and 8C, which is currently necessary to maintain viable anti-viral vaccines. The maintenance of the cold chain is an important barrier to the inoculation of people in remote or poor regions of the world, where the infrastructure to cool and transport the vaccines without problems may not be available.
"You can spend all kinds of money by developing a vaccine, but if it is deactivated at high temperatures one hour before you can give it to someone, it does not matter," says co-author Ali Ashkar, professor of pathology and molecular medicine specializing in immunology.
The challenges of the cold chain are so great, according to the researchers, that in some regions, vaccines must be transported by camels that carry mini-refrigerators with solar energy. There are some populations that never receive vaccines.
"If you can not get vaccines in places where people need them, it does not make sense to have them," says co-author Matthew Miller, assistant professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, whose laboratory is specialized in viral pathogens.
Not being able to get vaccines in isolated areas is not possible to eradicate the fatal viruses. Without control, these viruses can devastate local populations and reach exposed pockets in more populated countries where religious, cultural or other concerns have diminished the proportion of vaccinated individuals. This scenario has recently been produced in a measles outbreak in the United States to the northwest and Vancouver, BC.
The new method of vaccine storage suspends the active components of a vaccine in a small dose container full of sugar-gel combination that is dried to seal the vaccine. Later, clinicians reconstruct the vaccine with water and administer it to patients just as they would normally.
"Often complex problems have simple solutions. Only the right equipment is needed," Miller says. "The best research comes from the merging of fields, when you do something with someone who can not do it alone."
Researchers have shown that the method is viable with two sample vaccines: the flu virus and the herpes simplex virus, to inoculate them and test them by exposing them to viruses, since the immune response of the mice It is similar to that of humans. Storage media materials are already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, simplifying the path towards commercialization.
"All the pieces are ready," says co-author Carlos Filipe, Professor of Chemical Engineering at McMaster. "In reality, it's pretty simple compared to the technology necessary to create a vaccine itself."
The researchers work with a commercial partner to commercialize the technology.
Source of the story:
Materials provided by McMaster University. Original written by Wade Hemsworth. Note: the content can be edited by style and length.