Keywords: hamilton, health, mcmaster university, scientists, vaccine, vaccine storage, vaccines
Researchers at McMaster University have developed a new storage method to transport lifesaving vaccines to areas of the world previously inaccessible.
The invention is a stable and affordable way to store vaccines for weeks at temperatures up to 40 ° C.
The new method suspends the active components of a vaccine in a single-dose container filled with a combination of sugar and gel that will dry to seal the vaccine. Later, clinicians can restore the vaccine with water and administer it to the patient as they normally would.
Researchers say that combining vaccines and sugars is almost as easy as mixing cream and sugar in a coffee.
To apply the technology to the vaccines, the engineers collaborated with health scientists specializing in virology and immunology on the Hamilton campus.
The invention will eliminate the need for constant storage at temperatures between 2 ° C and 8 ° C to maintain current viable vaccines. This will also eliminate almost all the cost of transportation, which can account for 80% of the total cost of inoculation.
The method creates long-lasting, compact doses that would be ideal for shipping the Ebola vaccine to places like Africa, according to the researchers.
"You can spend all kinds of money to develop a vaccine, but if it's turned off by a high temperature an hour before you can give it to someone, it does not matter," said Ali Ashkar, co-author.
The researchers tested the method on mice because their immune response is similar to that of a human. They used two vaccine samples – the influenza virus and the herpes simplex virus – to inoculate the mice after exposing them to the virus.
The materials used for this new method have already been approved by the FDA, which simplifies the path to commercialization. Researchers work with a business partner to commercialize the technology.