The flawed process involving the cold chain results in a loss of billions of dollars worth of viable antibiotics and vaccines during storage and shipping, and has the added negative effect of severely limiting distribution ti developing nations that have a limited infrastructure. There has been demonstration of self-standing silk protein biomaterials which are capable of stabilizing antibiotics and vaccines (at temperatures up to 60ºC and for 6 months!!).
The silk fibroin is a biologically derived protein polymer that was purified from the domesticated silk worm cocoons; this polymer has demonstrated amazing properties for biomedical usage such as very robust mechanical strength, biocompatibility, as well as a controlled, slow degradation to nontoxic products in vivo (and can be prepared in a wide range of formats and shapes). Extensive physical crosslinking, the fact that the protein is hydrophobic, as well as other characteristics render the silk protein incredibly thermodynamically stable to changes in temperature and moisture. The model vaccine used was the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. The results showed an increase in stability for 6 months, particularly at high storage temperatures (even after reconstitution). Silk reduces the temperature-induced protein unfolding and subsequent aggregation by way of reducing residual moisture during storage at elevated temperatures.
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