Nav: Home

Tiny 'cages' could keep vaccines safe at high temperatures

April 24, 2017

Vaccines and antibodies could be transported and stored without refrigeration by capturing them in tiny silica 'cages', a discovery which could make getting vital medicines to remote or dangerous places much easier, cheaper and safer.

Vaccines and many other medicines contain proteins which break down and become unusable at room temperatures, meaning they must be kept refrigerated for storage and transportation in a so-called "cold chain". Loss of vaccines through breaks in the cold chain are a serious global public health issue, in particular for mass childhood vaccination programmes in the developing world.

Breaks in cold chain storage result in the loss of millions of doses of vaccines each year.

But a University of Bath team, working with colleagues at the University of Newcastle, have created a technique which can keep proteins intact at high temperatures up to 100°C, by encasing them in silica cages. Silica, which sand is made from, is non-toxic and inert.

Once the protein has been encased in silica it can be stored or transported without refrigeration before the silica coat can be removed chemically, leaving the proteins unaffected.

The discovery means that vaccines and other important medicines could be transported much more easily, cheaply and safely, especially to remote areas or places lacking infrastructure where the need is often greatest.

The teams call their method ensilication and hope it will solve the costly and often impractical need for a cold chain to protect protein-based products including vaccines, antibodies and enzymes. The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Dr Asel Sartbaeva from the University of Bath's Department of Chemistry, led the project. She said: "Once the proteins in a vaccine break down and tangle up, it's useless. You can think of it like an egg that's been boiled -- it can't be unboiled.

"So the ability to store and transport proteins at room temperatures or even hotter would remove a major logistical problem for safely delivering vaccines and other medicines to patients around the world.

"We have demonstrated with ensilication that we can simply and reliably keep proteins from breaking down even at up to 100°C, or store them as a powder for up to three years at room temperature without loss of function.

"We're very excited by the potential applications of ensilication and our next steps will be to test our findings on more vaccines, antibodies, antiviral and anti-venom drugs and other biopharmaceuticals."

When a protein in solution is mixed with silica, silicon dioxide binds closely around protein to match its shape and quickly builds up many layers, encasing the protein. A major advantage of this method is that unlike similar techniques it doesn't require freeze-drying, something that around half of all vaccines won't survive intact.

A powder of ensilicated proteins results, and the silica cage enveloping the protein means it can be heated to 100°C or stored at 22°C for at least six months with no loss of function.

The research team tested the method on three proteins; one from a tetanus vaccine, horse haemoglobin and an enzyme from egg white.
-end-
The research was funded by The Royal Society, Annett Trust and the Alumni Fund at the University of Bath.

For further information, please contact Chris Melvin in the University of Bath Press Office on +44 (0)1225 383 941 or c.m.melvin@bath.ac.uk

Photographs available at: http://bit.ly/2o3q16F

After 10am on 24th April the paper will be available at: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep46568 Draft copies available on request.

Watch Dr Sartbaeva deliver a Google X talk on thermally stable vaccines at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHD_rBfgZvw

Notes

The University of Bath celebrates its 50th anniversary this year as one of the UK's leading universities both in terms of research and our reputation for excellence in teaching, learning and graduate prospects.

In the REF 2014 research assessment 87 per cent of our research was defined as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'. From making aircraft more fuel efficient, to identifying infectious diseases more quickly, or cutting carbon emissions through innovative building solutions, research from Bath is making a difference around the world.

Find out more: http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/

Well established as a nurturing environment for enterprising minds, Bath is ranked highly in all national league tables. We were chosen as the UK's top university in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2015.

University of Bath

Related Antibodies Articles:

Researchers discover first human antibodies that work against all ebolaviruses
After analyzing the blood of a survivor of the 2013-16 Ebola outbreak, a team of scientists from academia, industry and the government has discovered the first natural human antibodies that can neutralize and protect animals against all three major disease-causing ebolaviruses.
New method enables creation of better therapeutic antibodies
Researchers from the University of Maryland and Rockefeller University have refined a method to modify an antibody's sugar group structure, which plays a large role in determining an antibody's ability to activate the immune response.
Antibodies as 'messengers' in the nervous system
Antibodies are able to activate human nerve cells within milliseconds and hence modify their function -- that is the surprising conclusion of a study carried out at Human Biology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM).
Turning therapeutic antibodies inside-out to fight cancer
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have camels and llamas to thank for their development of a new cancer treatment that is highly selective in blocking the action of faulty matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs).
Zika antibodies from infected patient thwart infection in mice
Researchers have identified neutralizing antibodies against Zika virus from an infected patient that fully protected mice from infection, adding to the current arsenal of antibodies in development for much needed antiviral therapies and vaccines.
A review on the therapeutic antibodies for spinal cord injury
Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes long-lasting damage in the spinal cord that leads to paraparesis, paraplegia, quadriplegia and other lifetime disabilities.
Training human antibodies to protect against HIV
During HIV infection, the virus mutates too rapidly for the immune system to combat, but some people produce antibodies that can recognize the virus even two years after infection.
How antiviral antibodies become part of immune memory
Emory scientists probe activated B cells, important for forming immune memory, during flu vaccination and infection and Ebola infection in humans.
Mouse antibodies pinpoint Zika's weak spots
Antibodies that specifically protect against Zika infection have been identified in mice, report Washington University School of Medicine in St.
Antibodies identified that thwart Zika virus infection
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified antibodies capable of protecting against Zika virus infection, a significant step toward developing a vaccine, better diagnostic tests and possibly new antibody-based therapies.

Related Antibodies Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Don't Fear Math
Why do many of us hate, even fear math? Why are we convinced we're bad at it? This hour, TED speakers explore the myths we tell ourselves and how changing our approach can unlock the beauty of math. Guests include budgeting specialist Phylecia Jones, mathematician and educator Dan Finkel, math teacher Eddie Woo, educator Masha Gershman, and radio personality and eternal math nerd Adam Spencer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#517 Life in Plastic, Not Fantastic
Our modern lives run on plastic. It's in the computers and phones we use. It's in our clothing, it wraps our food. It surrounds us every day, and when we throw it out, it's devastating for the environment. This week we air a live show we recorded at the 2019 Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C., where Bethany Brookshire sat down with three plastics researchers - Christina Simkanin, Chelsea Rochman, and Jennifer Provencher - and a live audience to discuss plastics in our oceans. Where they are, where they are going, and what they carry with them. Related links:...