BOULDER, Colorado — Nanoly Bioscience, Inc., a start up based in Boulder, Colorado, is using the power of nanotechnology to give the world access to greater coverage of basic immunization. Nanoly tackles the problem of how the mandatory delicate handling of the vaccines has limited the use of vaccinations among populations that need it most.
Currently, there are 2.5 million children who are not immunized. Furthermore, nearly 1.5 children’s deaths are attributed to the lack of access to vaccines. The solution seems easy: produce more vaccines and send it to them. However, most of these children live in rural areas where transporting the temperature-sensitive vaccines is extremely difficult.
According to the Gates Foundation, the highest concentration of unvaccinated children live within 10 countries where the immunization systems are already generally poorly implemented and therefore unreliable. Furthermore, delivering them is a whole different challenge.
Vaccines are extremely sensitive to both the temperatures in which they are held and the amount of exposure to light/heat. Furthermore, the proper way of storing, handling and transporting vaccines, which is called the vaccine cold chain, is a meticulous process. Therefore there have been significant challenges to distribute them to those especially in rural areas.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations of handling vaccines, the storage compartment must maintain a temperature ranging from 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit (or, 2-8 degrees Celsius). If stored in temperatures outside this range, the vaccine will denature and render the treatment ineffective.
As a result, Nanoly has created a hydrogen product as a solution to the limiting delivery situation. Nanoly’s new invention is a polymer that has the ability to custom-synthesize with any protein-based vaccine at any temperature. Therefore, with this technology, vaccines are no longer dependent on costly chilled transportation machinery.
Whether it is stored or delivered in an extremely warm climate, such as in rural Africa, the hydrogel product that encases the vaccines have the capability to protect them.
The invention eliminates the need for expensive refrigeration techniques, makes delivering these vaccines more portable, and ultimately contributes to greater vaccination coverage to promote a collective progress toward global health.
Nanoly plans to have the hydrogel product out on the market by 2017. Their target customers will be pharmaceutical companies and various nonprofit groups such as UNICEF who launch various global health initiatives.
The potential of Nanoly’s invention is extraordinary.
There has been a collaborative effort among more than 200 countries to get their populations vaccinated. This current decade has been declared the Decade of Vaccines. The aspiration is to give everyone access to vaccines by 2020. If vaccines are widely available, it will strikingly reduce the annual number of deaths, which is currently at 1.5 million children each year, caused by no access to vaccines. By 2020 vaccines could save more than 20 million lives.
Nanoly’s new product has the potential to deliver vaccines against an entire range of diseases including but not limited to: tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, hepatitis B and yellow fever.
In the next several years, as this technology comes out, we hope to see world reports announce the plummeting of the annual number of deaths in children caused by lack of access to vaccines.
– Christina Cho
Sources: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CDC 1, CDC 2, Nanoly Bioscience Inc., ONE