Glass Continues its Role in the World of New Medicines | The Glass Age | Innovation |

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Science of Glass

Science of Glass

Glass Continues its Role in the World of New Medicines

Glass Continues its Role in New Medicines

For centuries, glass has been an indispensable laboratory partner for chemists and research scientists. So important were glass vessels in lab experiments that in the years before mass production, chemists frequently did double-duty as glassblowers, creating their own labware for measuring, mixing, and storing chemicals.

Today, high-quality manufactured glass labware — like Corning Incorporated’s 100-year-old PYREX® brand — continues to meet the demanding needs of global industries like chemical research and vaccine production.

The non-porous surface of glass makes it resistant to contaminants and easily reusable, while its brilliant transparency puts chemical reactions in clear view. It can handle temperatures up to 230 degrees Celsius with ease (that’s 446 degrees Fahrenheit) and up to 400 degree Celsius (752 Fahrenheit) for short-term use.

Since it can be so easily formed, researchers can have a wide variety of glass labware shapes and sizes at their disposal — from standard beakers and flasks to specialty tubes, stirrers, and dishes to culture living cells.

Because of its stability and reliability in tough laboratory environments, glass holds an undisputed place in the history of modern medicine. PYREX products, for example, played an important role in enabling the mass commercialization of penicillin during World War II. Vessels made of PYREX — some as large as five gallons — were also used in the development, manufacture and distribution of Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine in the 1950s.

Innovations in glass are continuing to help lab researchers develop the next generation of chemicals and medicines. Of particular interest are new glass surface technologies that help support special research in biochemistry and molecular biology.

And, just as the PYREX bottles helped transport vaccines that saved lives more than half a century ago, new glass formulas are being developed that are even more resistant to breakage and erosion during shipping and storage. These new innovations are helping ensuring that in the healthcare world of tomorrow, glass will continue to play a key role in innovation and discovery.