MEDFORD, Mass., July 10 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers said they developed a silk-based stabilizer that kept some vaccines and antibiotics stable in hot temperatures in the laboratory.
Professor David Kaplan and Jeney Zhang, a doctoral candidate at Tufts University School of Engineering in Medford, Mass., said vaccines and antibiotics often need to be refrigerated to prevent alteration of their chemical structures that can result in less potent or ineffective medications.
The researchers were able to protect and stabilize both live vaccines and antibiotics when stored at higher-than-recommended temperatures -- as much as 140 degrees Fahrenheit -- for periods far longer than recommended, by immobilizing their bioactive molecules using silk protein matrices.
The finding provides for the possibility of eliminating the need to keep some vaccines and antibiotics refrigerated, which could save billions of dollars every year and increase accessibility to third world populations.
"This truly exciting development is the culmination of years of creative exploration and research focused on a major problem in the delivery of healthcare. 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," Dr. Roderic I. Pettigrew, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, said in a statement.
The findings was published in the online issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.