Vaccines

China’s First Digital mRNA Vaccine Facility: Leveraging Automation and Digitalization Solutions

Vaccines against sudden acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are designed to elicit immune responses that prevent recipients from getting — or becoming seriously ill or dying from — novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Two available COVID-19 vaccines are based on genetically engineered messenger RNA (mRNA). After administration, such molecules give muscle cells “instructions” for how to make target proteins — e.g., the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein. Immune-system detection of those proteins prompts creation of neutralizing antibodies. Immediately upon delivery of…

Flexible Vaccine Manufacturing: Collaborations Bringing Localized Solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has become the most recent reminder of how accessibility to drugs and vaccines depends heavily on geographical location and a country’s economic health. Some countries continue to lack the infrastructure, regulatory support, and trained workforce necessary for establishing a viable bioindustry. Unizima, part of the Univercells Group, is a team of experts, scientists, and engineers that partners with public and private companies and other organizations to help build biomanufacturing capabilities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We…

Advancing In Silico Tools for Vaccine Development and Process Modeling

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of — and significant demand for — vaccines. However, vaccine development for large-scale manufacturing can be difficult and resource intensive because of the diversity and complexity of vaccine types that are needed. Developing a new vaccine typically takes more than a decade, with costs ranging from US$200 million to $500 million per successful program. That figure rises to $8 billion for epidemic vaccines (1). Vaccine programs also face a 90% risk of failure…

Developing Subunit Vaccines Based on an Amphiphile Platform

Subunit vaccines stimulate immune cells by delivering selected components of a pathogen of interest rather than the entire pathogen. Elicio Therapeutics is developing subunit vaccines that target a recipient’s lymph node to elicit a robust immune response. The vaccines are based on the company’s amphiphile (AMP) platform (Figure 1). The platform-based drug candidates are targeting cancer and COVID-19. Their development would allow the vaccine to be stored without the need for ultracold and cold storage. Below, we discuss the development…

Development of Allergen Immunotherapies

Desentum, a biopharmaceutical company that specializes in developing allergen immunotherapy (AIT) products, has partnered with contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Biovian to advance hypoallergens based on targeted modifications to recombinant proteins. I spoke with Kati Sallinen (director of strategy and communications at Desentum) and Jonne Vaarno (project manager at Biovian) about their companies’ development of AITs and a potential platform to treat different types of allergies. Our Discussion We all know someone with an allergy, and many people have…

A Missing Link to Achieving Higher Vaccination Rates in Developing Countries

Puerto Rico is leading COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the United States, with 89.7% of adults already fully vaccinated (1). However, many other regions are struggling to gain that level of traction, if any. Less than 1% of people in developing countries are fully vaccinated (2). Because Pfizer–BioNTech’s and Moderna’s respective mRNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccines still require ultracold temperatures for long-term storage, vaccine distribution in remote locations is arduous without appropriate cold-chain infrastructure. Puerto Rico’s success in vaccinating its population demonstrates how…

Lymphocyte Activation Gene 3 in Immunooncology: A Soluble Protein Alternative

Early in 2021 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO’s) annual meeting, attendees witnessed the first validation of a novel checkpoint target: lymphocyte activation gene 3 (LAG-3). Bristol Myers Squibb’s (BMS’s) recent success in a phase 3 study of the relatlimab anti-LAG-3 monoclonal antibody (MAb) proved that the combination of LAG-3 and programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) is more effective than the standard of care in first-line metastatic melanoma (1). For about seven years, that standard has been…

Designing Vaccines: The Role of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Health, Part 2

In BPI’s October 2021 issue, part one of this review introduced the concepts of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), identifying some broad areas of application within vaccine discovery, preclinical testing, and clinical studies. This month, we conclude with a detailed discussion of specific disease targets and AI’s potential in addressing them. Having highlighted the example of Zika virus in part one, below we focus on malaria, tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpesvirus, hepatitis, and pandemic coronavirus. Malaria Malaria…

eBook: Vaccines Revisited — The Past, Present, and Future of Nucleic-Acid Vaccine Production

The quarterly BioProcess Insider eBook series launched in 2021 to investigate specific modalities and business strategies driving the biopharmaceutical sector based upon trends and discussion points presented in the Insider’s pages. Two of the four quarterly publications — this one included — have focused on the vaccine industry. If the series had launched in 2019, cell and gene therapies might have warranted a double edition, or perhaps investments in antibodies and antibody fragments would have driven a bispecific focus. Five…

Designing Vaccines: The Role of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Health, Part 1

According to the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, the fourth industrial revolution began in the 21st century and is characterized by an unprecedented development and exponential growth of a high-technology industry transforming society at every level (1–4). In particular, healthcare systems are evolving rapidly to adapt to the new reality. According to Forbes, the main technologies currently shifting the paradigm of medical research are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) (5), both defined…