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Silk Drug Stabilizer

August 8, 2012

Silk proteins may allow antibiotics and vaccines to be stored without refrigeration.



Silk-based drug stabilizers.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Silk proteins could save billions of dollars by preserving antibiotics and vaccines at room temperature. This according to Rosemarie Hunziker, Program Director at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health. Researchers at NIH and Tufts University found that the silk proteins protect the drug molecules from degrading.

ROSEMARIE HUNZIKER (National Institutes of Health):

What this innovation does is it allows us to keep these products at room temperature or even under very hot storage conditions, without a lot of moisture, and that allows us to ship them and store them under just about any condition that we like.

In fact, some antibiotics in the study survived temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, with minimal impact on their function.  As for what happens when it’s time to deliver the drug, other research suggests the silk could either be quickly dissolved, or left intact to help the drug release more slowly.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Silkworms make cocoons of silk, and emerge as moths. (Illustration from "Meyers Konversations-Lexikon", originally published in the 1880s/Wikipedia)