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Keywords:

  • vaccine process technology;
  • fermentation;
  • cell culture;
  • purification;
  • formulation;
  • manufacturing

Abstract

The evolution of vaccines (e.g., live attenuated, recombinant) and vaccine production methods (e.g., in ovo, cell culture) are intimately tied to each other. As vaccine technology has advanced, the methods to produce the vaccine have advanced and new vaccine opportunities have been created. These technologies will continue to evolve as we strive for safer and more immunogenic vaccines and as our understanding of biology improves. The evolution of vaccine process technology has occurred in parallel to the remarkable growth in the development of therapeutic proteins as products; therefore, recent vaccine innovations can leverage the progress made in the broader biotechnology industry. Numerous important legacy vaccines are still in use today despite their traditional manufacturing processes, with further development focusing on improving stability (e.g., novel excipients) and updating formulation (e.g., combination vaccines) and delivery methods (e.g., skin patches). Modern vaccine development is currently exploiting a wide array of novel technologies to create safer and more efficacious vaccines including: viral vectors produced in animal cells, virus-like particles produced in yeast or insect cells, polysaccharide conjugation to carrier proteins, DNA plasmids produced in E. coli, and therapeutic cancer vaccines created by in vitro activation of patient leukocytes. Purification advances (e.g., membrane adsorption, precipitation) are increasing efficiency, while innovative analytical methods (e.g., microsphere-based multiplex assays, RNA microarrays) are improving process understanding. Novel adjuvants such as monophosphoryl lipid A, which acts on antigen presenting cell toll-like receptors, are expanding the previously conservative list of widely accepted vaccine adjuvants. As in other areas of biotechnology, process characterization by sophisticated analysis is critical not only to improve yields, but also to determine the final product quality. From a regulatory perspective, Quality by Design (QbD) and Process Analytical Technology (PAT) are important initiatives that can be applied effectively to many types of vaccine processes. Universal demand for vaccines requires that a manufacturer plan to supply tens and sometimes hundreds of millions of doses per year at low cost. To enable broader use, there is intense interest in improving temperature stability to allow for excursions from a rigid cold chain supply, especially at the point of vaccination. Finally, there is progress in novel routes of delivery to move away from the traditional intramuscular injection by syringe approach. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2012; 109:1443–1460. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.