Research Highlights | Published:

Biomaterials

How additives preserve vaccines

Nature volume 540, pages 318319 (15 December 2016) | Download Citation

Scientists have found additives that, at low concentrations, extend the life of vaccines at room temperature.

High levels of sugar stabilize virus particles in vaccines, but the mechanism was unclear. Francesco Stellacci at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and his colleagues studied how sucrose and two other additive candidates affect viruses over time. They found that low concentrations of the polymer polyethylene glycol and gold nanoparticles mimicked the effects of sugar, increasing the half-life of a virus called adenovirus type 5 from 7 days to more than 30 days at room temperature.

The team concludes that high levels of sugar keep viruses structurally intact mainly by making the vaccines more viscous. For the other additives, particles act directly on the virus's protein shell to prevent it from degrading. The findings should aid in the design of better additives, which could reduce the high cost of keeping vaccines cold to maintain their potency during distribution.

About this article

Publication history

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/540318d

Authors

    Comments

    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing