Two technologies, VitRIS (Vitrified Readily Injectable Suspension) and HydRIS (Hypodermic Rehydration Injection System), are now sold by Nova Laboratories Ltd. These innovations represent a cost-effective and simple way of making vaccines and other pharmaceutical products stable for long-term storage, eliminating the need for refrigeration.
Some plants, animals, and bacteria are able to survive in a dried-up form for hundreds of years. They do this using a process called anhydrobiosis. When water is excluded such as during a drought, water within the cells is replaced with a sugar solution that thickens to a point of solidifying as a glass. Cells stay in a state of suspended animation until re-hydration occurs and the organism returns to life. Dr. Bruce Roser was looking for a way to store vaccines without refrigeration, and found the answer by studying anhydrobiosis. Because sugar hardens to form a non-crystalline glass, the vaccine is first spray-dried using sugar syrup to form microscopic glass spheres (VitRIS technology). The dry vaccine is then suspended in an inert liquid, which can be injected into muscle where bodily fluids reactivate the vaccine (HydRIS technology). Since the stable liquid formulations are anhydrous, they are inherently bacteriostatic, as bacteria require water to multiply. Thus the need for antiseptics is eliminated. Sugar beads also prevent the interaction of vaccines prior to injection; therefore, multiple or multivalent vaccines can be developed using this technology and given in the same shot. The sugar can also be adapted to dissolve more slowly, thereby releasing vaccines over time. This would remove the need for boosters. Pharmaceutical preparations include not only vaccines, but also insulin, monoclonal antibodies, recombinant growth hormones, proteins, enzymes and nucleic acids. Watch videos about the HydRIS and VitRIS technologies below.
Vaccines require refrigeration from the time they are made to just before injection. However, in some countries, refrigeration is difficult to impossible to maintain. This has posed significant problems in the public health field, interfering with the delivery of much-needed vaccines to remote areas.