Global demand for vaccines is expanding rapidly, with >25% annual growth in doses during relatively normal times (WHO, 2019). The advent of new viruses such as Ebola and the current COVID-19 pandemic will lead to more dramatic increases in demand, and strong pressure to shorten development time and cost.
How can the industry meet these goals? At Dolomite, we believe that Microfluidic technology offers a key to reducing lead times, increasing efficiency and quality, and reducing development costs.
Microfluidic tools can be used at all stages of the development and production cycle, from analysis of the disease to optimization of production protocols; from high throughput screening of antibodies to encapsulation of vaccines; from development of adjuvants to directed evolution of the yeast and bacteria used in vaccine biomanufacturing.
Vaccines provide active acquired immunity against a certain disease, usually via a biological agent representing the disease-causing organism. Early vaccines used a weakened or killed form of the microorganism, but more recent methods use recombinant or synthetic technology to deliver a fragment such as viral DNA synthetic peptide or surface protein.
These methods require significant work to select, develop and produce the biological agent at scale, enhance its performance using adjuvants, and deliver it to the target site. Microfluidic methods can help with each of these areas.
Examples of current microfluidic applications include: