Vaccines against killer diseases from polio to hepatitis are fragile and can easily be made useless if they get too hot or too cold.
The problem is particularly acute in the developing countries where nearly one in five of the world’s population – 1.3 billion people – live without access to electricity.
But now scientists and engineers from the UK have developed a cost-effective vaccine storage device which perfectly preserves vaccines for an astonishing 35 days using just 30 litres of ice and without needing electricity.
Research engineers from The Sure Chill Company, based in Cardiff, conceived a way to use their patented Sure Chill technology to keep vaccine cool for a month or more at tropical temperatures without the need for any power supply. To preserve the ice for such long periods requires state of the art insulation, so Sure Chill approached Dr Harjit Singh of Brunel University London, a globally recognised expert in vacuum insulating materials.
Explained Dr Singh: “The biggest challenge is to keep the vaccines in the very narrow safe storage temperature range of between two and eight degrees centigrade.
“What we have done is to combine Sure Chill’s patented technology which cocoons the vaccine chamber in water at 4°C with super-efficient vacuum insulation panels to keep the surrounding heat at bay. These panels are the best solid insulation currently available and are many times more effective than conventional refrigeration materials.
Fifty chemicals the public are exposed to on a daily basis may trigger cancer when combined, according to new research.
A global taskforce of 174 scientists from leading research centres across 28 countries studied the link between mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals and the development of cancer. The study selected 85 chemicals not considered carcinogenic to humans and found 50 supported key cancer-related mechanisms at exposures found in the environment today.
Longstanding concerns about the combined and additive effects of everyday chemicals prompted the organisation Getting To Know Cancer led by Lowe Leroy from Halifax Nova Scotia, to put the team together – pitching what is known about mixtures against the full spectrum of cancer biology for the first time.
Cancer Biologist Dr Hemad Yasaei from Brunel University London contributed his knowledge regarding genes and molecular changes during cancer development. He said: “This research backs up the idea that chemicals not considered harmful by themselves are combining and accumulating in our bodies to trigger cancer and might lie behind the global cancer epidemic we are witnessing. We urgently need to focus more resources to research the effect of low dose exposure to mixtures of chemicals in the food we eat, air we breathe and water we drink.”
Professor Andrew Ward from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, who contributed in the area of cancer epigenetics and the environment, said: “A review on this scale, looking at environmental chemicals from the perspective of all the major hallmarks of cancer, is unprecedented”.
Professor Francis Martin from Lancaster University, who contributed to an examination of how such typical environmental exposures influence dysfunctional metabolism in cancer, endorsed this view.
He said: “Despite a rising incidence of many cancers, far too little research has been invested into examining the pivotal role of environmental causative agents. This worldwide team of researchers refocuses our attention on this under-researched area.”
In light of the compelling evidence the taskforce is calling for an increased emphasis on and support for research into low dose exposures to mixtures of environmental chemicals. Current research estimates chemicals could be responsible for as many as one in five cancers. With the human population routinely exposed to thousands of chemicals, the effects need to be better understood to reduce the incidence of cancer globally.
Brunel University London (informally Brunel) is a public research university located in Uxbridge, London, United Kingdom.
Founded in 1966, it was named after the Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Brunel’s campus is located on the outskirts of Uxbridge. It is organised into three colleges and three major research institutes, a structure adopted in August 2014 which also changed the university’s name to Brunel University London. Brunel has around 15,200 full-time students and 2,500 staff and had a total income of £178.5 million in 2010/11, of which £14.8 million came from research grants and contracts.
In 1957 Brunel College of Technology separated from Acton Technical College with a focus on the education of engineers. Brunel College of Technology was awarded the status of College of Advanced Technology in 1960 and became Brunel College of Advanced Technology in 1962. In June 1966 Brunel College of Advanced Technology was awarded a Royal Charter and became Brunel University London. It is sometimes described as a British “plate glass university”.
Brunel is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association and Universities UK.
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