Shelf life of vaccines could be extended by years
Our expert's opinion
"This very interesting (though quite short for such a fascinating subject) article talks about a new discovery made by researchers at the University of Texas' Medical Branch of Galveston, which could potentially be groundbreaking for vaccines production and storage. These scientists are developping a vaccine in a DNA format. When injected into the recipient’s body (right now, mice are showing good results), the DNA ‘’transmits’’ the vaccine into the cells, which will then produce antibodies that will protect against diseases. This is huge because the vaccines do not need to be stored in a cold or regulated environment. Their shelf live is increased by years due to the lack of cell culture to obtain the active vaccine.
The University is hopeful that this could become a platform for more, if not all, vaccines in the future. I’m excited to see how this project is going to develop. What is your opinion; could this be a game changer in the sector?"
- Antoine Desprez, Associate Consultant
UTMB develops a universal vaccine platform that’s cheaper and shelf stable
Researchers at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have developed a less expensive way to produce vaccines that cuts the cost of vaccine production and storage by 80 percent without decreasing safety or effectiveness. The findings are currently available in EBioMedicine.
Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent and eradicate infectious diseases. Currently, many vaccines have to be manufactured in cell culture or eggs, which is expensive and carries the risk of contaminations. In addition, most vaccines must be kept refrigerated during the transportation from manufacturers to health care clinics. In tropical and subtropical regions, such cold storage requirements could contribute to more than 80 percent of the vaccine cost.
“The ability to eliminate cell culture or eggs and cold storage will change the process of vaccine development,” said UTMB’s Pei-Yong Shi, professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology. “Importantly, this vaccine technology could potentially serve as a universal platform for development of live-attenuated vaccines for many viral pathogens.”
To achieve these goals, the UTMB team engineered a live-attenuated Zika vaccine in the DNA form. Once the DNA is delivered into our body, it launches the vaccine in our cells, leading to antibody production and other protective immunity. With this production method, there is no need to manufacture the vaccine in cell culture or eggs at factories. Because DNA molecules are shelf stable, the vaccine will not expire at warm temperatures and could be stockpiled at room temperature for years.
Using UTMB’s Zika vaccine as a model, the research group showed that the DNA platform worked very efficiently in mice. After a single low dose, the DNA vaccine protected mice from Zika virus infection, mother-to-fetus transmission during pregnancy and male reproductive tract infection and damage.
“This is the first study to demonstrate that, after a single low dose, a DNA vaccine could induce saturated protective immunity,” Shi said. “We will continue testing this promising Zika vaccine platform and then apply the platform to other viruses.”
Other authors include UTMB’s Jing Zou, Xuping Xie, Huanle Luo, Chao Shan, Antonio Muruato, Scott Weaver and Tian Wang.
Source: UTMD Health