Researchers from Oxford University and Nova Bio-Pharma Technologies out of Leicester, UK have been able to keep viral vaccines stored at relatively high temperature without losing their effectiveness. The technology is showing promise in being able to ship unrefrigerated vaccines to remote areas where they’re most needed.
Oxford University carried out the proof-of-concept study, showing that vaccines they are developing could be stabilised for months using Nova’s patented technology, called the Hypodermic Rehydration Injection System (HydRIS).
The team demonstrated it was possible to store two different virus-based vaccines on sugar-stabilised membranes for 4–6 months at 45°C without any degradation. The vaccines could be kept for a year and more at 37°C with only tiny losses in the amount of viral vaccine re-obtained from the membrane.
The method involves mixing the vaccine with the sugars trehalose and sucrose. The mixture is then left to slowly dry out on a simple filter or membrane. As it dries and the water evaporates the vaccine mixture turns into a syrup and then fully solidifies on the membrane.
The thin sugary film that forms on the membrane preserves the active part of the vaccine in a kind of suspended animation, protected from degradation even at high temperature. Flushing the membrane with water rehydrates the vaccine from the membrane in an instant.
Abstract in Science Translational Medicine: Long-Term Thermostabilization of Live Poxviral and Adenoviral Vaccine Vectors at Supraphysiological Temperatures in Carbohydrate Glass
Oxford press statement: New method makes vaccines stable at tropical temperatures …