Seqirus, the maker of influenza vaccines, said it has achieved an industry first by producing a cell-based influenza vaccine on a commercial scale using a virus that has been grown in cells versus the traditional method of using chicken eggs.
By using cell-derived candidate vaccine viruses (CVVs) instead of egg-derived CVVs, the company said the technology has the potential to drive improved process control and increased output in the production of cell-based influenza vaccines. The influenza viruses isolated and grown in cells can also be more similar to influenza viruses in circulation.
Influenza, which is a common, contagious infectious disease, can cause moderate respiratory illness to severe complications, hospitalization and in some cases death. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 310,000 people in the U.S. were hospitalized during the 2015-2016 season with influenza-related complications.
“Cell-based influenza vaccines represent one the most significant advancements in the history of influenza vaccine production,” Gordon Naylor, president of Seqirus, said in a statement. “It will improve our overall production process and enhance our ability to deliver on our commitment to public health.”
The company said that it was successful earlier this year in using a cell-derived H3N2 CVV in the production of its cell-based seasonal influenza vaccine, allowing for end-to-end production of the particular strain exclusively cell-based. Seqirus plans to use the the technology for the production of other vaccine strains produced at its Holly Springs, N.C., site in the future.
The facility was specifically built in partnership the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to help combat pandemic threats.
Seqirus is a unit of Australia-based CSL, which acquired the flu vaccine business from Novartis for $275 million in 2015. Use of animal cell cultures versus eggs was approved by the FDA for developing seasonal flu vaccines back in 2012.
Other players in the flu vaccine arena include Sanofi ($SNY) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK).