Biology professor Ken Stedman and graduate student James Laidler at Portland State University have recently discovered a new technique to preserve viruses in a state of suspended animation. They refer to the process as “zombification” due to the fact that the “undead” viruses can easily be brought back to life under the right conditions.
The procedure apparently uses a silicate coating to protect a fragile virus which quickly dissolves once ingested or injected into a living host. Of course, many vaccines are derived from the viruses themselves. And the new “zombification” process could dramatically increase the shelf life of delicate viruses and allow for easier, more inexpensive transport and storage of new vaccines across the world.
This process has the potential to stabilize vaccines so that they can get to more places and more people more often. Six million people per year – mostly children – die from diseases that could be helped with vaccination.
The researchers from the Center for Life in Extreme Environments discovered the process by coating four different virus types in silica, a glassy substance found in certain types of hot springs. The studies themselves, recently published online in the Journal of Virology, have reportedly been funded by NASA due to the possibility of securing viruses for transport and study from other planets.
Obviously the implications and benefits of preserving a theoretical zombie virus in a post-apocalyptic world could prove invaluable. And any interested members of the Zombie Research Society or budding virologists can study this cutting edge technique by viewing the original research online at the Journal of Virology!