Patent of the Week: Creating a Temperature-Stable Vaccine Platform

Patent of the Week

Researchers have developed a novel vaccine platform with fewer side-effects and shelf-stability, which addresses the significant challenge of distributing vaccines to developing countries.

For vaccine development, there are a limited number of clinically-approved, adjuvants, which is an ingredient added to improve vaccine efficiency. Some of the solutions currently available produce undesirable side effects, such as injection site swelling and other reactions.

In this patent, researchers – including former University of Chicago professor, Joel Collier (now at Duke University) – describe a short peptide adjuvant (Q11) that assembles into a network of fibers in solution. When injected into the body, this vaccine platform has several advantages, including reduced injection site inflammations and the ability to combine multiple antigens in a single dose.

Additionally, the platform also is highly thermostable, which is important because almost all vaccines must be kept in a temperature range between 2–8°C. If subject to temperatures outside this range, the vaccine’s efficacy is affected. While systems have been developed to support refrigeration from production to administration, errors and implementation challenges make it difficult to ensure no deviations in temperature occur.

“Because of this, the introduction of new thermally stable vaccines that do not rely heavily on the cold chain has become an important goal,” the researchers said – one which is highlighted by World Health Organization assessments.

In a paper published in 2015, the researchers explain that the work “was conceived as a step towards addressing the significant challenge of distributing vaccines to developing countries and regions that may not have an intact, reliable cold chain.”

“Our approach has been to design vaccination materials based on the Q11 self-assembling domain, which can form nanofibers capable of raising strong immune responses directly, without the use of supplemental adjuvants,” they said.

The researchers have completed in vivo proof of concept experiments with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

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// Patent of the Week is a weekly column highlighting research and inventions from University of Chicago faculty.

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