Developing animal-free vaccine media

MOST vaccines today are manufactured using fetal bovine serum or other animal-based components, which raises important safety concerns over prion and viral contamination. This month, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) made a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to InVitria, to help the company develop an animal-free cell culture media for industrial scale vaccine manufacturing.

Besides the potential health risks associated with animal-derived media, InVitria says that animal components often display batch-to-batch variation, leading to unpredictable manufacturing results. In addition, regulatory bodies in Europe, Japan, and the USA discourage use of these components in biomanufacturing.

As a result of these factors, there is an unmet commercial need for serum-free media components and this grant will help InVitria to meet that demand, it says. Steve Pettit, the company’s director of cell culture research and principal investigator, says: “We will leverage our recombinant cell culture supplements to formulate a cell-based vaccine media that optimises productivity, while maintaining a safe biomanufacturing system”.

InVitria’s vice president of research and development, Ning Huang, added: “It is well known that serum and animal components are undesirable in vaccine manufacturing, but current serum-free formulations have not delivered on cell growth and productivity. InVitria is addressing this issue with a novel method to achieve the productivity necessary for industrial scale manufacturing.”

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