Scientists found that encapsulating live virus vaccines in metal organic frameworks (MOFs) protects their integrity for up to 12 weeks at temperatures as high as 37 degrees Celsius.
Researchers from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) have developed a technology that could eliminate the need to refrigerate vaccines.
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Scientists found that encapsulating live virus vaccines in metal organic frameworks (MOFs) protects their integrity for up to 12 weeks at temperatures as high as 37 degrees Celsius. Without refrigeration or the MOFs, the vaccines would last only a few days.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year at least 50 percent vaccines are wasted globally due to the challenges of transporting them in a temperature-controlled environment. Daniel Layton, a CSIRO immunologist, said the breakthrough has the potential to enable more affordable and equitable access to vaccines across the world.
"Vaccination is undoubtedly one of the most effective medical interventions, saving millions of lives each year, however delivering vaccines, particularly to developing countries, is challenging because they often lack the cold storage supply chains," he said, adding that the MOFs effectively protected vaccine molecules from heat stress.
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"MOFs work similarly to a scaffold you might put around your house. Once you remove the scaffold, your house remains -- which is what happens when we dissolve the MOFs in a vaccine," scientist Cara Doherty, adding that the CSIRO team will next focus on testing the approach for vaccines including mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
"There are two common approaches to protecting vaccines from heat. You can modify the vaccine, which is complex and laborious and at high temperatures may still only last less than a week, or you can use other stabilizing agents which pose challenges including how to realistically scale up the solution," said Ruhani Singh, author of the CSIRO study.
The Australian team is expected to continue to progress this research and is looking to partner with animal and human health companies to commercialize its work.
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