What’s something that dissolves/melts in your mouth? Nope, It’s not candy, but it’s Vaccine!! Dive in now !! —>
Vaccines have often been described as the most significant human intervention supporting global health, second only to clean drinking water.
Maria A.Croyle from College of Natural Sciences, University of Texas, Austin and her team bring us a novel method to stabilize live viruses and other biological medicines in a rapidly dissolving film that does not require refrigeration and can be given by mouth.
HUNT AND INSPIRATION
The hunt for this began in 2007 after they were asked to develop a needle-free, shelf-stable delivery method for a vaccine by the National Institute of Health. The inspiration for designing a film was inspired by a documentary about how the DNA of insects and other living things can be preserved for millions of years in amber.
Even though the idea was simple, none gave it a try. So Croyle and her team went to work, mixing a variety of formulations containing natural ingredients like sugars and salts and testing them for their ability to form a solid amber-like candy.
At the start, many preparations either killed the organism or crystallized during storage, shredding the virus or the bacteria we were trying to preserve.
Their most significant breakthrough came when they were finishing their Ebola vaccine project and found that films containing viruses were made three years ago, stored in a sealed container on the lab bench. As soon as they saw this, they immediately rehydrated them and tested them to determine if the Vaccine was still capable of inducing an immune response. To their surprise, more than 95% of the viruses in the film were still active. To achieve this kind of shelf-life for an unrefrigerated vaccine was astonishing.
After around 450 tries for a year, they found the solution.
As time passed by, they gained experience and worked on simplifying it so that extensive technical training would not be needed to make it.
Croyle added that she’s involved with a startup aiming to get this technology to market within the next two years, which could be very useful for us.
In general, all stored vaccines lose their potency over time with the rate depending on the temperatures they are kept at. Keeping vaccines continuously refrigerated is complicated and expensive– and in some parts of the world, it is next to impossible. So creating a vaccine that can be stored and transported at room temperature is a considerable advantage.
Vaccination campaigns also generate a lot of waste as well. An example is The 2004 Philippine Measles Elimination Campaign, which immunized 18 million children in one month, generated 19.5 million syringes, or 143 tons of sharps waste and nearly 80 tons of nonhazardous waste – empty vials, syringe wrappers, caps, cotton swabs, and packaging.
As the numbers increase, it leads to more and more problems.
“Our film, by contrast, can be distributed by health workers equipped with only an envelope containing the Vaccine. Once taken, it will leave no trace, except for a healthy global population,” concludes Croyle.
Development of a technology that could notably minimize resources needed for distribution and administration of vaccines would notably enhance access to these medicines and improve global health. And this Vaccine is undoubtedly one thing that is going to help us.
For more information, see here