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Candy-Coated Live Vaccines Stay Active

Encapsulating live vaccines with trehalose and sucrose is just as effective as refrigeration for storage

by Sarah Everts
February 22, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 8

A little sugar coating may help keep precious vaccines out of the cold, according to a study led by Oxford University virologists Matthew G. Cottingham and Adrian V. S. Hill (Sci. Transl. Med. 2010, 2, 19ra12). In collaboration with U.K.-based Nova Bio-Pharma Technologies, the researchers found that encapsulating live vaccines with trehalose and sucrose is just as effective as refrigeration to keep the vaccines active. Live adenoviruses and poxviruses are being developed as platforms for vaccines against diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. But the refrigeration requirement may be too expensive and difficult to maintain for developing countries that stand to benefit the most from the vaccines. The team first dissolved the viruses in concentrated sugar solution and deposited drops of the solution on filterlike membranes. The setup was then slowly dried by natural evaporation at room temperature. The sugar-coated adenoviruses were brought back to life after being stored for as long as six months at 45 °C by dissolving them in saline solution. Next up, the team will optimize the process so that the sugar-stabilized viruses can also cope with physical challenges encountered during shipping and handling.


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