Freeze-dried vaccine may help eradicate polio once and for all
Although polio is now rarely heard of in First World countries, it sometimes still occurs in developing nations which lack facilities for refrigerating the vaccine. That may soon no longer be a problem, however, as scientists have developed a freeze-dried vaccine which can be stored at room temperature.
The new temperature-stable vaccine was created by a team in the lab of Dr. Jae Jung, at the University of Southern California. In order to assess a large number of possible ingredients and formulations, the researchers utilized techniques such as liquid chromatography and high-throughput screening. Eventually, they found a combination that worked.
After being freeze-dried into a powder, the resulting vaccine can be stored at room temperature and then simply rehydrated and injected once needed. In previous attempts at creating such a polio vaccine, the freeze-drying and rehydration processes caused the medication to lose its potency.
In lab tests, after being stored unrefrigerated for four weeks, the vaccine was found to fully protect mice against the polio virus. It is now hoped that a company or foundation will help develop the technology further, ultimately commercializing a finished product that could survive long road trips to remote communities, and that wouldn't need to be put in cold storage upon arrival.
"No matter how wonderful a drug or vaccine is, if it isn't stable enough to be transported, it doesn't do anyone much good," says Dr. Woo-Jin Shin, first author the study.
A paper on the research was published this Tuesday in the journal mBio.