By Sarah Strand
Tufts scientists have made great strides in needleless vaccines.
Just six years ago, Tufts scientists set out to achieve a lofty goal: creating a needleless vaccine that would not need to be refrigerated. After numerous trials and tribulations, the team, partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has achieved just that.
The group of scientists, doctors and researchers was led by Abraham Sonenshein, professor and Interim Chair of molecular biology and microbiology at the School of Medicine, and Saul Tzipori, professor of microbiology and infectious diseases at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
Most vaccines must be refrigerated and carefully transported before use, making it difficult to immunize poor, rural areas without proper medical facilities or electricity. By engineering a vaccine that does not need to be cooled, the team is opening doors for better health in remote parts of the world. Creating this substance, however, was no easy task.
Scientists at Tufts’ Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences had to enclose parts of the bacteria that cause tetanus in a heat-resistant bacterial spore of another type. The spore acts as a protective container, allowing the vaccine to still be viable after extreme conditions.