LOWELL, MASS. (WHDH) - University of Massachusetts – Lowell scientists are working toward developing a production method to freeze-dry mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines so they can be transported and stored at room temperature.

If successful, the innovation could eliminate the need for mRNA vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech to be refrigerated in very cold temperatures to maintain their effectiveness against the coronavirus, a university spokesperson said, adding that the development would ease supply chain issues and deliver the life-saving immunizations to countless more people around the world.

“Our goal is to develop a freeze-drying process that can be used for mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines to make them more stable and extend their shelf life, as well as make them easier to transport, store and use,” said UMass Lowell Chemical Engineering Prof. Seongkyu Yoon, who is leading the project with Emily Gong of Physical Sciences, Inc., in Andover, Massachusetts, along with researchers from Merck and the University of Connecticut.

The freeze-drying process called lyophilization is being conducted in UMass Lowell’s Lyophilization Research Bay.

The study is funded through a one-year, $930,223 grant from the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals.

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