Logistics of the Cold Chain and Therapeutic Lifecycle | AIChE

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Logistics of the Cold Chain and Therapeutic Lifecycle

SBE Special Section

Many therapeutics must remain at cold temperatures throughout their lifecycle. Maintaining this “cold chain” presents several logistical challenges.

We rarely stop to think about the journey that vaccines and other medicaments travel before use. Many therapeutics, particularly vaccines and other liquid-based therapies, must remain at or below refrigeration temperature in the “cold chain” from formulation to storage to distribution until the point of use. This cold chain leads to many logistical challenges and is costly to implement. Suppose these therapeutics step out of this refrigeration system. In that case, they go unused, as verifying their efficacy at the various points along the cold chain is challenging. The recent COVID-19 pandemic highlighted these concerns, where some of the most prominent vaccines have utilized mRNA, which requires even lower temperature storage than most hospitals and care facilities have access to. With these even greater restrictions, we have encountered additional constraints as we implement measures to distribute these vaccines to everyone. COVID-19 has brought to light the many facets of the therapeutic lifecycle. It has influenced the way we think about and approach these problems. In these last few years, we have seen significant therapeutic formulations and technology advancements and have begun pondering new avenues to overcome the challenges in the vaccine lifecycle.

Here, we will provide a brief overview of the challenges of the cold chain as it pertains to vaccines and therapeutics. We specifically describe these hurdles and the changes that have occurred in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlight a selection of research avenues, and suggest future pathways in vaccine innovation.

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