April 17, 2024
Vaccine Technologies

Revolutionizing Vaccination: Exploring Cutting-Edge Vaccine Technologies

mRNA Vaccine Technology

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines use genetic material to provoke an immune response. They work by instructing cells to make harmless copies of the spike protein found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This trains the immune system to recognize and combat the real virus if exposed in the future. Some key advantages of mRNA vaccines are their speed of development and ability to be quickly updated to address new variants of concern.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were the first mRNA vaccines to be approved for widespread use. Both were developed in under a year thanks to advancements in mRNA Vaccine Technologies research over the past decade. Researchers were able to rapidly design and test candidates targeting the spike protein instead of traditional methods that grow live viruses. Large phase 3 trials showed over 90% efficacy at preventing symptomatic disease. Billions of doses have now been administered globally with a good safety profile.

Protein-Based Vaccine Technologies

Unlike mRNA vaccines, protein-based vaccines introduce purified viral proteins rather than genetic material. This allows the immune system to mount a defense by recognizing the viral proteins as foreign. Novavax developed a COVID-19 vaccine that contains engineered spike proteins and an adjuvant to boost the immune response. In clinical trials, it demonstrated over 90% efficacy overall and potentially offers advantages like more traditional technology and refrigeration storage.

Studies evaluating Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine in combination with other approved vaccines suggest it can effectively boost immune responses even in those previously vaccinated. This has potential advantages for recall responses with annual or biannual boosters. Protein-based approaches may also be more amenable than mRNA to production at large scale for global vaccination campaigns. Novavax’s platform shows promise for developing combination vaccines targeting multiple diseases at once.

Viral Vector Vaccine Technology

Viral vector Vaccine Technologies use another virus to deliver genetic material from the target virus and stimulate an immune response. The best known example is the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which uses an adenovirus vector that cannot replicate. This delivers the gene for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein while being safe, as the delivery virus cannot cause disease.

Other viral vectors under evaluation include modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) and chimpanzee adenovirus. These platforms are flexible and allow repeated administration by avoiding pre-existing immunity to the delivery virus that may limit some adenovirus vectors after a single dose. Viral vectors also provide possibilities for combination vaccination and therapeutic applications against various cancers and infectious diseases.

Challenges with vector immunity highlight further research needed to enhance vectors or develop new types. But overall, viral vector technology offers opportunities as a versatile platform applicable to pathogens requiring single or multiple immunizations. It has potential for widespread scalability in responding to future pandemic threats.

Improving Vaccine Thermostability

Ensuring vaccines remain effective during transport and storage in varied conditions is crucial for global distribution, especially in low-resource areas. Thermostability challenges have been a historic limitation of some technologies. However, ongoing strategies seek to stabilize vaccines against temperature fluctuations.

Some newer platform materials like nucleic acids and certain viral vectors and protein structures are intrinsically more thermostable than traditional live-attenuated or inactivated vaccines. Novel adjuvants can boost stability while improving immune responses. Lyophilization into dry powder is an approach to improve thermostability by removing water content. Other methods use additives like sugars or fats that minimize structural changes at temperature extremes.

Biomolecular tools like structural biology offer insights into thermal vulnerabilities. Computer modeling also simulates stabilization approaches in silico before laboratory testing. These combined innovations aim to expand the reach of effective vaccines to all populations worldwide, regardless of infrastructure limitations. Continued progress in thermostability will drive broader application of existing and new technologies for both endemic and emerging disease protection on a global scale.

Vaccine technologies over recent years have enabled rapid responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Platforms like mRNA, viral vectors, protein-based and others open new possibilities for developing vaccines against an array of pathogens. Ongoing research further enhances these approaches through improvements in immunogenicity, scalability, thermostability and more. Ultimately, continued innovation in vaccine technologies will be key to preparing for and eliminating existing and future infectious disease threats worldwide.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.