Are Freeze-Dried Vaccines the Future?

Scientists have found a way to preserve vaccines that doesn’t require refrigeration.

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Vaccines save lives, but they’re fickle. The requirement of cold chains to maintain the efficacy can add cost and logistical hurdles to an already complicated distribution system. A recent VICE article discussed an innovative new way of preserving vaccines that could simplify the process significantly. A team of biochemical engineers found a way to freeze-dry the essential components of a vaccine so that they can be rehydrated with a drop of water and administered in just one hour.

The team proved the concept with a bacterial vaccine, but believe the strategy can be applied to viruses as well. The process is called iVax, and according to a co-author of the study who is a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern, it’s not too different from how strawberries are freeze-dried in cereal. In that state, the cellular extracts will remain stable for months without temperature control. When they’re needed, they can be purified and administered for about $1 a dose.

Related reading: Listerine Breath Strips Inspire New Vaccine Storage Technique

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