A CSIRO study has found MOFs (metal organic frameworks) to be a possible solution to address the challenge of transporting temperature-dependent vaccines.
The World Health Organisation had estimated that at least 50 percent of vaccines are wasted globally each year due to a lack of facilities and temperature control.
Most vaccines need to be stored at a temperature between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, however many live vaccines can be frozen and kept at temperatures between -15 to -50 degrees.
The requirement of cold-chain logistics were one challenge to Australia's COVID-19 immunisation rollout in 2021. For instance, both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require long-term storage at -70 degrees, making distribution of the vaccines difficult and expensive.
Prior to administration, a solution will then be added to dissolve the MOF, exposing the vaccine particles.
There are currently two approaches to address temperature stress for non-refrigerated vaccines; either engineer the vaccine to increase its stability or add stabilising agents to the solution.
The CSIRO study conducted found MOFs protected the integrity of live viral vaccines for up to 12 weeks with decreasing effectiveness as time increases at an overall temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. Without refrigeration, the vaccine would normally last only a few days.
The research focused on two different types of live viruses; a Newcastle Disease vaccine designed to protect poultry and a strain of the Influenza A vaccine.
The paper's author, CSIRO researcher Ruhani Singh, said the technique was cost-effective and scalable.
“This world-first approach of stabilising a vaccine with MOFs is simple, rapid, and scalable because it takes one step.”
CSIRO scientist and immunologist Daniel Layton said the breakthrough science would now focus on proving the approach for other animal and human vaccines, including mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, with the team looking to partner with animal and human health companies to commercialise their work.
“Vaccination is undoubtedly one of the most effective medical interventions, saving millions of lives each year, however delivering vaccines, particularly to developing countries, is challenging because they often lack the cold storage supply chains required to keep the vaccine viable,” Layton said
"This breakthrough has the potential to enable more affordable and equitable access to vaccines across the world.”