A Princeton-led technology to improve the storage and transport of vaccines and life-saving drugs at room temperature has been selected as one of three university innovations to receive funding for further development from the Philadelphia-based University City Science Center.
The innovation, a system for rapid room-temperature dehydration of vaccines and biopharmaceuticals, uses ultra-fine-droplet aerosols to convert vaccines and drugs into dry form, eliminating the need for expensive refrigeration or freezing. The technology was developed by Princeton Research Scholar Maksim Mezhericher
in collaboration with Howard Stone, Princeton’s Donald R. Dixon '69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
The Princeton team was selected from among the 12 participants in the Science Center’s QED Proof-of-Concept program to receive a $200,000 grant with which to advance the technologies. The Science Center will contribute half the funds, with the remainder contributed by the researchers’ institutions.
Awardees also receive access to an experienced team of business advisers, exposure to investors and industry representatives, and access to regulatory and legal specialists to advance their technologies toward the next stage of development.
The QED program connects university researchers with investors and industry experts who advise on how to transform life-sciences discoveries into products and services that benefit human health.
As a QED program participant, the Princeton team met regularly for the past several months with business advisers and professionals to enable the team to develop a business plan and outline steps to bring the innovation to customers.
At the conclusion of the program, a committee of investors and industry reviewed each project’s technical proposal, business plan and presentation, and selected the Princeton team and two other university teams for the funding award. Projects were judged in part on the potential to demonstrate a significant improvement over existing available technologies.
“This award exemplifies our shared goal with the Science Center of transforming academic research into impactful solutions,” said John Ritter, director of Technology Licensing at Princeton.
The Princeton team’s technology has the potential to lower the cost and improve the reliability of vaccines and biological medications, including several cancer therapies, that are temperature-sensitive because they contain components derived from living organisms. During transportation and distribution, such therapeutics must be transferred from one refrigerator or freezer to the next, maintaining a “cold chain.”