By: Chloe D.
School: Stratford School
Science Teacher: Heather Rydzeski
Vaccines are an important tool in the fight against many serious diseases, but their effectiveness and distribution can be hampered by the cold chain. This is the need to keep vaccines cold from the point of manufacture to the time of administration.
The purpose for Chloe’s project was to make vaccines safer, and easier to transport. Tardigrades or water bears are microscopic invertebrates that are located around the globe that can survive in extreme conditions, temperatures, and space. Chloe’s project was seeing if using a unique set of proteins that only tardigrades have called TDPs. The process was to dehydrate the water bears, and study them in their dehydrated state. Then Chloe used the data from studying the tardigrades and see which vaccines could use this biomimicry to make vaccines safer, and easier to transport. The vaccine will be able to be transported as a dehydrated vaccine, so that it will be easier to transport and can be shipped to more countries around the world.
The tardigrades were separated into test and control groups, with the test group dehydrated for 12 hours, and then rehydrated with spring water. The number and mobility of the rehydrated tardigrades demonstrated that all of the tardigrades survived the experimental procedure and were indistinguishable from the control group.
Chloe’s hypothesis is that tardigrades can be subjected to a state of complete dehydration and successfully rehydrate to a fully active state and the mechanism can be used to dehydrate vaccines for transport and storage, rehydrating when they are needed for injection.
In the data, two experimental tardigrade groups were successfully dehydrated and then rehydrated in this project. Chloe’s hypothesis was correct that tardigrades can be subjected to a state of complete dehydration and successfully rehydrate to a fully active state and the mechanism could be used to dehydrate vaccines for transport and storage, rehydrating when they are needed for injection. “To further continue this project, I would like to see which vaccines could have TDPs added to them,” Chloe sats, “and which type of vaccine would be more effective a bacterial vaccine or viral vaccine.”