Nanoly Bioscience of Boulder and the University of Colorado recently entered into an option agreement that will enable the startup company to develop a technique for protecting vaccines during delivery to rural and less-developed areas of the world.
The most needed vaccines in developing countries are for measles, tetanus, polio, pertussis and diphtheria, all of which -- like most vaccines -- must be kept at between 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit (2-8 degrees Centigrade) during transportation, delivery and storage. Outside of this range, vaccines begin to degrade and become ineffective. Maintaining this “cold chain” during transportation and delivery is challenging even in developed areas, and storing vaccines at appropriate temperatures is a serious problem in remote areas where electricity is absent or unreliable.
A research team led by CU-Boulder Distinguished Professor Kristi Anseth of the chemical and biological engineering department and the BioFrontiers Institute developed a unique material that is being adapted to solve the problem, which is estimated by the World Health Organization to cause more than a quarter of the total wastage of liquid vaccines worldwide. Anseth’s group created a unique “nano-polymer” material that can be customized and blended with any vaccine to protect against thermal damage during transportation, ultimately improving vaccine availability in remote locations.
“We’re thrilled to be adapting CU technology and working toward a solution for such an important problem,” said Balaji Sridhar, a member of Anseth’s lab who co-founded Nanoly in 2012 along with Anseth lab colleague Mark Tibbitt and co-founders from several other institutions. In 2013, the company placed second in the CU Denver business plan competition. Nanoly Bioscience also won the Duke University Startup Challenge in 2012.
“We are excited that Nanoly has optioned Dr. Anseth’s polymer technology,” said MaryBeth Vellequette of the University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office, who is the director of technology transfer for CU-Boulder. “Nanoly has a very dynamic team that is passionate about developing this technology and we are eager to continue working with them as this venture grows.”