Every year millions of people around the world die from vaccine preventable diseases. Why?
Well, researchers at the University of Bath, led by Dr Asel Sartbaeva found that keeping vaccines cold was the one of the biggest challenges in transporting these vital medicines around the world.
If the proteins in vaccines reach a temperature above 8ºC they can become ineffective and unusable – and in some cases, even toxic.
As a result, vaccination levels are 16% lower in low-income countries compared to the developed world, in part, because they do not have the electricity, infrastructure or equipment to store and transport these vital medicines.
To help tackle this challenge, Asel and her team have developed a method called ‘ensilication’ which involves encasing vaccines in silica to protect the proteins, and eliminate the need for refrigeration.
The technology has been several years in development, and as well as helping millions of people around the world, it is also highly sustainable. The material is non-toxic and biocompatible, and the elimination of refrigeration ultimately reduces the environmental burden of generating power to run medical fridges.
As Asel says: “It’s very important because today we don’t deliver vaccines to millions of people. In fact, statistically more than 7 million people die around the world from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
This amazing project won an IChemE Global Award in November 2017, under the category ‘Biotechnology’. Asel collected the Award from Peter Farrelly, Managing Director of PM Group – category sponsor.
Watch her reaction and find out more about the project in our short video:
What’s more, just one week after getting her IChemE gong, Dr Asel Sartbaeva was awarded the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) World Award for her vaccinations project. Congratulations Asel!
Come back tomorrow when we’ll be shining the spotlight on another 2017 IChemE Global Award winner.
Are you feeling inspired to apply for the IChemE Global Awards 2018? Whether you would like to enter your own project, sponsor a category, or just attend to support your fellow professionals – register your interest here.