Millions of doses of vaccines are ruined each year due to improper storage and loss of refrigeration. One of the biggest challenges of vaccination is maintaining the cold chain — a continuous network of refrigeration at 2–8°C — to prevent denaturation, or the unfolding of proteins. Vaccines must be kept at cold temperatures from production, through shipping, to final delivery and administration. The cold chain is a critical logistical problem in the developing world. Many regions in developing countries have limited or no access to the power grid, making reliable refrigeration for storing vaccines impossible. It’s these regions that often have the greatest need for vaccines.
Researchers at the Univ. of Bath in the U.K. have crafted a method that could keep vaccines stable at room temperature and at elevated temperatures, allowing easier transport in the developing world.
The team calls their method ensilication. In this process, proteins within the vaccine are enclosed in a layer of deposited silica — forming a sort of silica cage around the proteins — rendering them stable for long-term ambient storage. The silica completely surrounds the proteins and...
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