Living in a first-world country has many advantages, not the least of which is easy access to medicine. Many of the compounds used in medicines require special storage mechanisms, such as refrigeration, and because these drugs can be made within the country, they do not have to be stored for too long, sometimes. Other times the drugs will still break down and lose their efficacy, and as major a problem it is here, in other nations with fewer resources, it is far worse. Fortunately researchers at Tufts University have made a discovery that could dramatically help alleviate 'cold chain' problems.
The silk protein made from silkworm cocoons has the amazing ability to stabilize the chemicals at room temperature and higher. Even sensitive medicines like the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) survived for six months at 45 ºC with only 15% loss in potency. Penicillin which will lose all potency within twenty-four hours when stored at 60 ºC lasted an entire month with no detrimental effect.
This stabilization effect of the silk comes from it having tiny pockets within it that will hold and immobilize the medicine. This prevents the chemical from folding and losing potency due to heat. Also the pocket is hydrophobic and keeps moisture away from the chemical, which can also cause it to degrade. This protein has another benefit for medical use than just stabilizing chemicals though as it can be shaped into films and even microneedles, which can then be used for applying to a patient.