An initiative to make HIV and malaria drugs more resistant to heat has been launched by GlaxoSmithKline and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The $1.8 million (£1.1 million) research project aims to increase the number of vaccines in sub-Sahara Africa by reducing the need for refrigeration.
According to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), transporting drugs in conditions known as the “cold chain” is a challenge in hot and countries.
But they plan to make adjuvants – agents used in vaccines to boost an immune response – more heat stable to reduce the need for a cold chain, which is an ambitious goal according to Emmanuel Hanon, Senior Vice President, Vaccine Discovery and Development.
He said: “This partnership is the starting point for research into an exciting area of biomedical technology that has the potential to overcome a significant and long-standing barrier to vaccine access in developing countries.”
The project will initially focus on the development of the adjuvant AS01 which is used in GSK’s malaria vaccine, as well as other vaccines being developed for HIV and tuberculosis.
Despite advances in the last decade, over 22 million children in developing nations remain without access to life-saving vaccines.
Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health for the Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation, believes that the project is one way to improve that statistic.
He added: “This partnership with GSK will help drive research and development efforts to overcome persistent global health challenges.
“Reducing the dependence on the cold chain is critical to the affordable delivery of life-saving vaccines to the children who need them most.”