It is no secret that medicines have very specific storage needs. Think about all of the medications you’ve handled in your life. Some need opaque bottles, others need clear bottles. Some have to be stored in the freezer next to your pizza rolls, while others can safely add to the clutter in your purse without losing any efficacy. And we’ve all kept antibiotics in the little butter compartment of our refrigerator door. Vaccines, however, almost always need to be stored at cold temperatures, or else they’ll become ineffective.
The temperature needs of vaccines have long posed a challenge for public health, which strives to make vaccines as widely available as possible. The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston has been working to solve this problem – and save money too!
UTMB researchers figured out that if they could get rid of cell culture, eggs, (a common vaccine ingredient), and cold storage, they could revolutionize the vaccine production process. Their answer? Genetically engineering a Zika vaccine that can stabilize itself without any additives.
The vaccine is essentially in DNA form, and once it enters the body, it releases the vaccine and creates immunity. This innovative vaccine requires no cell culture, eggs, or cold temperatures! This means the vaccine can be safely kept at room temperature for many years.
The UTMB researchers found that this new method can also be used with other common vaccines, and it cuts production costs significantly. In fact, their DNA-vaccine method slashes 80% of vaccine production and storage costs.