Silica Cages Could Replace Cold Chain for Vaccine Storage

Researchers have demonstrated that silica-encased proteins can withstand extreme temperatures without denaturation.

Silica Cages / Image: Royal Society of Chemistry
Silica Cages / Image: Royal Society of Chemistry

When protein-based substances like vaccines are stored at room temperature, the proteins unfold and denature. The is the reason vaccine storage and transportation depends on a continuous network of refrigeration dubbed “cold chain.” However, a May 9th article from The Pharmaceutical Journal discussed a new solution that less costly and more dependable: silica.

When a protein in solution is mixed with silica, it creates a network or cage around the protein, allowing it to withstand heat as high as 100 degrees Celsius. Once the silica coating is removed, the protein is released back into the solution intact and functional. In their findings in Scientific Reports, the researchers suggest the technique could replace cold chain and improve vaccine availability worldwide.

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