Silk, or rather a protein derived from silk, may just save hundreds of millions of dollars in vaccine transport costs.
A new company, Vaxess, a collaboration between a Tuft’s Professor and a group of Harvard MBA students (now grads) has been racking up business awards. They won $160,000 in funding from the 2013 HBS Alumni New Venture Competition and most recently won Innovative Technology of the Year – Healthcare/Life Sciences from MassTLC.
This has led to $3.75 million in first-round financial, a deal to keep the company afloat into 2015.
How This MedTech Works
The company has developed a process where silk proteins are injected into a vaccine making them stable at higher temperatures. The proteins are added, mixed with the vaccine and then dried. Once onsite, the end health care worker can reconstitute the vaccine and deliver it to the patient.
The vaccine can be stored in its dried state for up to six months, with temperatures up to 60˚C. Researchers have also tested it on antibiotics with similar results.
The cost savings are huge. Vaxess estimates that the cold chain can cost vaccine programs $200 to $300 million every year. Eliminating that cost will greatly improve delivery of vaccines and antibiotics to the neediest parts of the world. Eliminating the need for cold transportation greatly reduces costs and makes batches less likely to spoil.
Testing has already been done on the MMR vaccine, and the antibiotics tetracycline and penicillin. Although this process of being commercially available is still 5 to 6 years away the potential for this application is huge.
What do you think of this emerging technology? Do you see any barriers to developing this process to a commercial form?
If you are a physician, you can discuss this further inside our private community at Sermo.com.
For full research paper click this link and look for the embedded study at the bottom of the page.