Canadian Scientists Find Vaccine Breakthrough That Doesn't Require Refrigeration

One of the biggest vaccine challenges is transporting them.

Researchers in Canada have figured out a way to preserve vaccines without refrigeration, a monumental breakthrough for health care professionals who often struggle to transport vaccines.

The chemical engineers, from McMaster University, combined the fragile vaccines for herpes and influenza with a sugar solution. Then they stored the vaccines at 104 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks before re-testing the vaccines on mice — and they still worked.

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This is big news for health care providers who are often faced with the difficult proposition of keeping vaccines cool throughout their transport and storage. It costs a lot of money and headaches to preserve vaccines during transport, and often times the vaccines are so damaged they aren't usable. But this simple, novel solution could change everything.

"I'm very confident," Carlos Filipe, who supervised the research, told The National Post. "That's unusual for me."

Across the globe, an estimated 20 million children are vulnerable to diseases that could be prevented with a vaccine. One major reason they don't get those vaccines is that they are so hard to transport safely, The Globe and Mail reported. Scientists have come up with some laborious solutions, like solar-powered mini-refrigerators, but none are as practical or simple as this. 

Sana Jahanshahi-Anbuhi, an assistant professor at Concordia University, came up with the idea, according to The National Post. Her idea was spurred by seeing Listerine strips in the grocery store, which are thin sheets of film preserved by pullulan sugar. Jahanshahi-Anbuhi ruminated on whether the same sugar could preserve something like a vaccine, and it turns out it could.

The team has applied to The Gates Foundation for funding and is going to test their method on a new set of vaccines. 

"This isn't just interesting science," Dr. Vincent Leung, a chemical engineer at McMaster, told The Globe and Mail. "This is science that can change the world."

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