AUSTIN - A Texas researcher believes his technology could help with complicated logistics and distributing a COVID-19 vaccine.
Currently, both Moderna and Pfizer require their COVID-19 vaccines to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures between -4- and -94-degrees Fahrenheit, or risk going bad in a matter of days or weeks.
Dr Robert O. Williams III, a pharmacy professor and researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, is the brains behind the technology called ‘thin film freezing.’
"In my lab, we've been working on it for about 15 years," said Williams.
The thin film freezing process rapidly freezes and converts liquid vaccines and treatments into powder form, which can then be inhaled or transformed back into a liquid by simply adding water.
"When they're ready to administer the injection to the patient to vaccinate, they could reconstitute the powder with water or normal saline," said Williams.
Williams estimates that a powder vaccine could be stored at room temperature for up to six to nine months, which could make a huge difference in distributing the vaccines.
"Our government leaders may have to choose which vaccine goes to the rural areas, just based on its storage cold chain requirements. I view this as being used by companies in order to not have to store at minus 70 degrees Celsius, or even minus 20 degrees Celsius. I'd like to eliminate the freezing requirement for all vaccines," said Williams.
Most importantly, Williams says the treatments and vaccines don’t lose any effectiveness whether in liquid or powder form.
In fact, the technology has already been utilized with other COVID-19 anti-viral treatments, including Remdesivir.
Williams says the technology could also be applied so that COVID-19 treatments could be prescribed by doctors to patients at home, early-on, to prevent their symptoms from getting too severe and keeping them out of the hospital.
TFF Pharmaceuticals is now working on commercializing thin film freezing.