Pharmaceutical International News - July 2012
Silk-Based Drug Storage Breakthrough
Posted by Paul Fiddian - Pharmaceutical International's Lead Reporter on 10/07/2012 - 08:15:00
Researchers based in the United States have come up with a way of keeping certain antibiotics and vaccines stable in hot conditions through using a silk-based stabiliser.
According to Tufts University School of Engineering's Jeney Zhang and Professor David Kaplan, antibiotics and vaccines need to be temperature-controlled.
Typically done through refrigeration, temperature control is an essential part of drug storage measures as, without it, the products involved can potentially develop a different chemical structure. This means, at best, they could lose potency.
Now, these researchers have developed a silk protein matrix design capable of maintaining the chemical structure of antibiotics and vaccines, without the need for refrigeration.
Silk-Based Drug Storage
This silk-based drug storage technique is effective in temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and, in theory, the technique could do away with drug-based refrigeration altogether. If adopted on a widespread basis, that could produce billions of dollars in annual savings and the approach could be a real boost to antibiotics and vaccine distribution efforts in undeveloped nations, too.
"This truly exciting development is the culmination of years of creative exploration and research focused on a major problem in the delivery of healthcare", US National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering director, Doctor Roderic Pettigrew, explained in a statement. "Kaplan and his team have done a masterful job at both understanding the key properties of silk, and applying these insights to a global medical challenge."
"New studies are already under way", Professor Kaplan added. "We have already begun trying to broaden the impact of what we're doing to apply to all vaccines. Based on what we've seen with other proteins, peptides, and enzymes, there's no reason to believe that this wouldn't be universal.
"This could potentially eliminate the need for a cold-chain system, greatly decreasing costs and enabling more widespread availability of these life-saving drugs."
Image copyright US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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