Dehydration process could eliminate the vax cold chain

One of the Holy Grails of the vaccine industry is cheap, effective technology that will do away with the need for a complex and pricey cold chain to guard supplies. And now scientists at Oxford University and Nova Laboratories say that new sugar technology can be used to do just that.

By mixing the vaccine with the sugars trehalose and sucrose, the scientists can dehydrate the vaccine in a filter and preserve the active ingredient--even in tropical climates. Once the vaccine reaches its destination, it can be rehydrated in a matter of seconds.

"Currently vaccines need to be stored in a fridge or freezer," explains lead author Matt Cottingham of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford. But if one were able to ship vaccines at normal temperatures, vaccines would be more readily available--and come at a lower cost. "You could even picture someone with a backpack taking vaccine doses on a bike into remote villages," Cottingham adds.

In wealthy countries, the cold chain is expensive to maintain. But in poorer countries, the chain often either doesn't exist or has big gaps that prevent the delivery. "If most or all of the vaccines could be stabilized at high temperatures, it would not only remove cost, more children would be vaccinated," Adrian Hill of Oxford University says in a statement.

- read the Oxford release
- here's more from Reuters