Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

Tuberculosis Vaccine Protected From Thermal Degradation Due to Silica Cages

Aug 09, 2019 05:39 AM EDT

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University of Bath scientists developed a heat resistant TB antigen for tuberculosis vaccine. 

The new method prevents spoilage of this vaccine when outside refrigeration. This allows a reliable delivery of a thermally stable vaccine to remote locations in the world. 

"There is an urgent need not only for a new TB vaccine, but also for methods to keep vaccines stable outside of the refrigeration 'cold chain' - as up to 50% of vaccine doses are discarded before use due to exposure to suboptimal temperatures. Thermostable vaccines have therefore been named a priority research area in the World Health," according to Eureka Alert

Silica layers wrap vaccine proteins through their developed method, ensilication, that forms into a cage around the molecules. These do not break down when exposed to temperatures. 

The researchers showed that these temperature-sensitive TB antigen ag85b and a vaccine combined with the adjuvant protein Sbi can be protected from heat damage when ensilicated. 

The findings of this research was published inthe journal Scientific Reports that showed ensilication as a method in improving protein thermal stability. This shows great promise to different types of vaccines. 

Lead author Professor Jean van den Elsen, said: "A new TB vaccine is really urgently needed to supplement or replace the existing BCG vaccine and reduce the number of TB cases and deaths - particularly as drug-resistant TB infections remain high."

First author Ayla Wahid, added: "To make the vaccine as effective as possible it needs to be thermally-stable, or in other words not spoil outside of a fridge, which is why we're really encouraged by these results. Cold-chain storage leads to a lot of wastage and expense which could be avoided by ensilication."

Dr Asel Sartbaeva, who invented ensilication, added: "Our results reveal the potential of ensilication in storing and transporting life-saving vaccines at ambient temperatures globally - in particular to remote areas of developing countries where disease rates are often highest.

"With up to 50% of vaccines being thrown away, and refrigeration raising vaccine costs by up to 80%, this is a major global health challenge that we need to overcome. By demonstrating for the first time that ensilication works to protect vaccine-relevant proteins from breaking down outside a fridge we're a big step closer to achieving this goal."

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