Portable Vaccine Kits Can Be Transported to High-Risk Areas Without Power to Create On-the-Spot Vaccines by Just Adding Water
For vaccines to be effective, a continual chain of refrigeration is important to keep them viable. In areas where power sources are limited or nonexistent, such as developing nations, or in areas where elaborate medical equipment isn’t found for miles around, a portable vaccine kit could be the turning key to keeping an epidemic in check, thus saving many lives.
A team of researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute sought out to create a practical and mobile method to create medical treatments anywhere. A portable system was developed that enables the technician to produce an essential biomolecule as needed without requiring the aid of a refrigerator or a laboratory—instead, simply add water.
At the core of the scientists’ “portable biomolecular manufacturing kit” are two freeze-dried pellets that can be mixed and matched to create different compounds that cater to specific treatment modalities. Water is the only component needed to rehydrate and mix the ingredients. The pellets have a shelf life of at least a year, potentially longer.
The pellets come in two forms: reaction pellets and instruction pellets. The former contains no cells and genetic material and acts as the base that can be used to generate different drugs, whereas the instruction pellets contain DNA instructions to direct the reaction pellet and thus specifies the type of medication to produce. By combining the two pellets with water, a vast array of vaccines, antibacterial peptides, and antibody conjugates can be manufactured on the spot. Therapy from the rehydrated pellets can be administered orally, topically, or as injections to treat food poisoning, prevent wounds from getting infected, and dispense vaccines during a viral outbreak, such as influenza.
The portable vaccine kit is also an inexpensive biomolecular manufacturing kit at approximately three cents per microliter. Apart from its clinical use, researchers and students can use the kits for study purposes when state-of-the-art facilities and appliances are inaccessible.