Vaccine research & development

There are no approved coronavirus vaccines to prevent respiratory infections among humans, but there are a number under investigation and in various stages of development. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, some anti-viral drug or biologic based approaches have been approved for emergency or compassionate use, but ultimately vaccines provide a long-term solution to reduce the risk of infection by training the immune system to respond quickly and effectively. Vaccine development is necessary for controlling transmission, improving community immunity, and preventing further SARS-CoV-2 resurgence.

The various approaches to vaccine development can be broadly classified into either protein subunit, plasmid DNA, mRNA, or viral vaccines. Our products and services support the development of scalable and robust vaccines enabling large-scale cGMP production.

Vaccine research

Vaccine-originated immunity is one of the most effective ways to protect human life, yet viruses are always evolving.  Therefore, it is critical to select a vaccine approach and begin with basic lab research to identify the pathogen and antigen candidates that could cause an immune response, as well as study and understand host immune response to improve vaccine development.

We offer a broad range of products that support vaccine research, regardless of approach, enabling the speed and accuracy needed to shorten your development timeline.  Learn more by visiting our Vaccine Research and Development Tools page.

Nucleic acid isolation products for SARS-CoV-2

SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be purified quickly and efficiently from samples using the MagMAX Viral/Pathogen Nucleic Acid Isolation Kit. Visit our SARS-CoV-2 epidemiological research page to learn more about our viral nucleic acid isolation products  for SARS CoV-2 research,  including our KingFisher systems for high-throughput nucleic acid isolation.

End-to-end immunology solutions for vaccine research with Ion Torrent NGS

Deeper understanding of the adaptive immune system powers better insights into its role in vaccine research including immunogencity. The Ion Torrent immunology research portfolio enables a multi-dimensional research approach to repertoire sequencing and immune response. Each targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) assay is powered by the accuracy and sensitivity of Ion Torrent technology to help discover more from within precious samples.

Targeted NGS vaccine portfolio includes:

  • TCR beta assays for deeper insights in clonality and convergence
  • BCR IgH assays to quantify somatic hypermutations and study isotypes
  • Immune response assay to detect low expression genes

Research factors such as host gene expression, signaling pathways, and microbiota to understand influences on immune response and the potential impact on vaccine efficacy.

  • Transcriptome assay to understand changes in gene expression and signaling pathways due to immune response
  • Human microbiome assay to study a key factor in host response and species with immunomodulatory properties

Transcriptome analysis ›         Human microbiome ›

The Ion GeneStudio S5 System is a scalable, targeted-NGS workhorse with wide research application breadth and throughput capability and is compatible with our complete portfolio of immune response research assays.

Learn more about the Ion GeneStudio S5 System ›

The Ion Torrent Genexus system features a hands-off, setup-and-go workflow with automated reverse transcription, library prep, template prep, sequencing, and analysis all on one instrument.

Request a virtual demo of the Genexus system ›
View the Ion Torrent NGS portfolio of vaccine research solutions ›

The simple, fast, cost-effective Sanger sequencing workflow make it ideal at different steps of the vaccine development workflow:

  • In target discovery, it is being used to identify the virus and its variants.
  • Can help with optimizing the sequence of the mRNA vaccine candidate to maximize protein expression.
  • Can be used to sequence and characterize the neutralizing antibodies generated as a response to the virus which could potentially have therapeutic or prophylactic utility.

The entire workflow can be completed, from sample to answer, in less than one workday.  We offer products to support the entire workflow from PCR amplification to data analysis.  The SeqStudio Genetic Analyzer is an affordable, low-throughput cartridge-based benchtop genetic analyzer that eliminates complex instrument set-up to deliver Sanger sequencing runs in as little as 30 mins.

Learn more about Sanger sequencing solutions for SARS-CoV-2 research ›

The importance of human cell line authenticity

Vaccine research is often performed with cultured human cells obtained from major repositories or fellow researchers. An estimated 15–20% of the time, cells used in experiments have been misidentified or cross-contaminated with another cell line. Although major repositories now authenticate cell line identity, many are calling for all researchers to test and authenticate cell line identity using standard genotyping techniques like Short Tandem Repeat (STR) genotyping with CE.

We offer products to authenticate cell line identity:

Flow cytometry is used to help measure the efficacy and safety of potential vaccines across their discovery and development process. Some of the advantages of flow cytometry are: ability to get data from a large number of cells from a single sample, efficiently acquire data unattended using a 96- and 384-plate autosampler, and scalability of scientific experiments as needs change.  Flow cytometry is used in the screening, selection, and evaluation process of candidate vaccines where intracellular cytokine staining of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells can be used to measure their immunogenicity and efficacy. Flow cytometry immunophenotyping panels can also be used to measure changes in other cell types such as those of the innate immune response during testing.  Sorting of the immune cells generated in response to candidates means they can then be further examined through NGS.

Explore more information about flow cytometry products and resources ›

See other research tools for studying the host immune response to viral infection, or see immune monitoring immunoassays for looking at markers to assess the cytokine release storm.

Product Cat no.
Flow Cytometry Immunophenotyping Panel Learn more ›
2020 Attune NxT Flow Cytometer Request a quote ›
Invitrogen ProcartaPlex Assays Learn More ›
Invitrogen ELISA Assays Learn More ›
Invitroge ProQuantum Assays Learn More ›

Invitrogen SuperScript reverse transcriptases were developed for improved thermostability, processivity, and cDNA yields to enable performance with even the most challenging RNA samples. With over 50,000 citations, reviews, and publications, SuperScript reverse transcriptases are proven to be a superior choice for those in vaccine development.

See what other reseachers are saying at thermofisher.com/ssiv.

Accelerate vaccine development using real-time PCR

Real-time PCR is an indispensable tool that is widely used throughout vaccine research and development. Real-time PCR offers an easy-to-use workflow, fast time to results, scalability for large numbers of samples, high sensitivity and specificity, and a wide dynamic range for precise detection and quantitation of nucleic acids. These unique benefits position real-time PCR as the go-to technology for a diverse range of applications, including targeted gene expression profiling of host immune responses, monitoring of virus and bioproduction cultures and stocks for adventitious agents, quantitation of virus- or gene-based vaccine dosage, assessment of viral vaccine infectivity and potency, and analytical QC of process residuals during manufacturing. Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a comprehensive portfolio of real time PCR solutions that promise to accelerate vaccine development timelines.

TaqMan Gene Expression Assays

Catalog # Assay ID Name Size
Vi06439674_s1 4331182 CoV_HKU1 250 rxns
Vi06439646_s1 4331182 CoV_OC43 250 rxns
Vi06439673_s1 4331182 CoV_NL63 250 rxns
Vi06439671_s1 4331182 CoV_229E 250 rxns
Vi06439644_s1 4331182 MERS_CoV 250 rxns
Vi06439634_s1 4331182 SARS_CoV 250 rxns

To order, search the Assay ID or Name using our ordering tool:  Search now

Hypothesis-free target identification and evaluation of host gene expression is achieved with higher accuracy, in less time, using Invitrogen Collibri Library Prep Kits for Illumina systems.

The Invitrogen Qubit 4 Fluorometer enables accurate quantification and proper quality check of next-generation sequencing libraries, which is key to a successful sequencing run.

Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a broad range of cell culture reagents, equipment, and consumables to support vaccine research. Explore products in the tables below or learn more at thermofisher.com/cellculture.

GeneArt Gene Synthesis is a cost-effective method for obtaining customized DNA constructs that are 100% sequence accurate, allowing you to free up time and resources. The GeneOptimizer algorithm determines the optimal gene sequence for your expression system as part of a real multi-parametric approach that significantly increases protein yield via a combination of factors that stabilize mRNA and maximize translation efficacy.

Recent publications utilizing GeneArt Gene Synthesis Services:

Find out more at thermofisher.com/genesynthesis.

In vitro transcription Posttranscriptional modification Template degradation
T7 RNA polymerase, TheraPure-grade Capping enzymes, TheraPure-grade DNase I, TheraPure-grade
RNase inhibitor, TheraPure-grade 2’–O-methyltransferase, TheraPure-grade
Inorganic Pyrophosphatase, TheraPure-grade Poly(A) polymerase, TheraPure-grade
ATP, GTP, CTP and UTP, TheraPure-grade
Modified nucleotides, TheraPure-grade
ARCA (anti-reverse cap analog)

Learn more about our mRNA-based therapeutics workflow solution ›

GeneArt Gene-to-Protein

The full portfolio of Thermo Fisher Scientific, from GeneArt gene synthesis to optimized eukaryotic/mammalian expression systems, offers researchers the unique opportunity to perfect their gene expression results. Our proprietary sequence optimization algorithm (Invitrogen GeneArt GeneOptimizer technology) enhances the sequence through a parallel multi-parameter approach. To further maximize protein yield, you can choose from our best serum-free Gibco Expi293, Gibco ExpiCHO, and insect expression systems.

This holistic approach, from electronic gene sequence or accession number to the purified protein, is an efficient way to exploit your gene-to-protein workflow for high performance, either by purchasing reagents for internal work or outsourcing the entire workflow as a highly customized service to the GeneArt protein team. This procedure is ideal for rapid protein production early on during drug development and is highly advantageous to minimize changes in protein quality/function observed when moving from R&D to bioproduction.

Find out more at thermofisher.com/genetoprotein.

QuantiGene gene expression assays are based on branched DNA (bDNA) technology and allow for direct-from-sample transcriptional profiling without the need for RNA isolation. QuantiGene assays come in single and multiplex format (96 and 384 well) and can analyze up to 80 RNA targets per well.

These assays have been used to develop more reliable and robust parameters for vaccine QC and safety research. With the advent of nucleic acid vaccines such as mRNA vaccines, QuantiGene technology has been used to evaluate the safety of delivery systems and to monitor the biodistribution of these nucleic acids after administration via different routes. These are important aspects to be determined to demonstrate that the safety profiles of these RNA vaccine candidates are comparable to traditional vaccines.

Product Cat no.
QuantiGene assays Learn more ›
QuantiGene assay for biodistribution studies webinar Watch now ›

In critical times, vaccine development can’t wait. Rapid development and deployment of a vaccine is vital to protecting populations from further spread of a pathogen.

The Gibco Expi transient expression systems enable you to confidently and consistently get superior yields of your vaccine candidates in the shortest time. Our optimized protein expression systems include cells, media, transfection reagent, enhancers/feed, and a DNA vector to provide a complete solution that enables:

  • Rapid production of vaccine candidates to effectively shorten the time to clinic
  • High yields of vaccine candidates
  • Cost-effective and large-scale production capabilities

Spotlight Story: Vaccine development efforts at University of Queensland

Professor Paul Young and Dr. Keith Chappell at the University of Queensland are leading a group that mobilized early to develop a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine under the auspices of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI). They are using a unique ‘molecular clamp’ technology together with the Gibco ExpiCHO Expression System to rapidly scale targeted vaccine development. The ExpiCHO system is uniquely suited to this project for the high yield and quality it delivers with rapid expression of vaccine development candidates. Additionally, the same cGMP-banked ExpiCHO-S cells can be used for the entire manufacturing process: from early preclinical work using transient expression, to full-scale manufacturing employing a clonally-selected, high-expression stable cell line.

Read the GEN article highlighting this work  

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Structural research

Viral spike proteins reside on the surface of viruses and are used to bind to host cells, enabling viral infection. Knowledge of the precise, 3D structure of these proteins is essential for the generation of specific, effective drugs and vaccines. It also provides general insight into how the virus evades the immune system. 

Researchers at the Department of Molecular Biosciences (The University of Texas at Austin) and the Vaccine Research Center (National Institutes of Health) determined the 3D structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein  thanks to the Thermo Scientific Krios G4 Cryo Transmission Electron Microscope (Cryo-TEM), a powerful, commercially available cryo-electron microscope for life science applications, commercially available cryo-electron microscope for life science applications.

This structure will undoubtedly help to expedite the development and evaluation of a potential vaccine or treatment. Most notably, the structure was determined within weeks of purifying the spike protein; this quick pace heralds a potential revolution in vaccine and anti-viral development.

In order to better express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein for structural studies and eventual development of a potential vaccine, the Expi293 Expression System suite of products for structural biology consists of specially engineered Expi293F cell lines, reagents, and kits to enable:

  • Uniform protein glycosylation
  • Inducible protein expression
  • Protein labeling

These products now add to the versatility of the Expi293 platform as a high-yield solution for structural biology research.

TaqMan Gene Expression Assays

Catalog # Assay ID Name Size
Vi06439674_s1 4331182 CoV_HKU1 250 rxns
Vi06439646_s1 4331182 CoV_OC43 250 rxns
Vi06439673_s1 4331182 CoV_NL63 250 rxns
Vi06439671_s1 4331182 CoV_229E 250 rxns
Vi06439644_s1 4331182 MERS_CoV 250 rxns
Vi06439634_s1 4331182 SARS_CoV 250 rxns

To order, search the Assay ID or Name using our ordering tool:  Search now

Spotlight Story: Determining the 3D structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein

Researchers at the Department of Molecular Biosciences (The University of Texas at Austin) and the Vaccine Research Center (National Institutes of Health) determined the 3D structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein  using the Thermo Scientific Krios G4 Cryo Transmission Electron Microscope (Cryo-TEM), a powerful, commercially available cryo-electron microscope for life science applications.

This structure will undoubtedly help to expedite the development and evaluation of a potential vaccine candidate.  Most notably, the structure was determined within weeks of purifying the spike protein; this quick pace heralds a potential revolution in vaccine and anti-viral development.

Read the Science article highlighting this work ›


Process development & manufacturing

In the development of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 virus, five different approaches are leading the way:

  • Protein subunit vaccines—involve using a key part of the virus, typically the viral spike protein or part of the receptor binding domain, to develop an immune response; proteins are produced recombinantly in mammalian, microbial, or yeast cells
  • mRNA vaccines—involve the injection of synthesized, packaged mRNA encoding the viral spike protein
  • Viral vaccines—involve infecting cultured cells with live virus to produce whole viruses that are then killed or attenuated to be used as a vaccine
  • Viral vector vaccines—involve engineering innocuous viruses with transgenes derived from a pathogen to elicit an immune response to that pathogen

Our bioprocessing vaccine production technologies and virology portfolios offer proven solutions for process development and production. Learn more about these products below.

Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a large selection of cell culture products, including media supplements, sera, transfection reagents, and plastics, enabling a solid foundation for vaccine research and development.

Product Cat no.
Custom Cell Culture Media and BioProduction Services thermofisher.com/custommedia
Low-Endotoxin Plasmid DNA Isolation Kits Learn more › 
cGMP multi-compendial amino acids, buffers, salts, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and WFI are available  in bulk catalog formats or as custom trusted-weight dry powders or custom pre-made process liquids.  Bulk Catalog Chemicals
Process Liquid Preparation

Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a large selection of single use equipment and consumables from bench to production scale.  The Single Use Mixers and Single Use Bioreactors can be used with all vaccine types, and help to accelerate facility readiness for manufacturing.

Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a large selection of affinity and polish resins enabling consistent product recovery and removal of impurities during vaccine process development and scale-up.

Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a large selection of analytical tools to ensure process and product safely during vaccine process development and scale-up.

Product Cat no.
cGMP multi-compendial amino acids, buffers, salts, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and WFI are available  in bulk catalog formats or as custom trusted-weight dry powders or custom pre-made process liquids.  Bulk catalog chemicals
Process liquid preparation
Product Cat no.
cGMP multi-compendial amino acids, buffers, salts, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and WFI are available  in bulk catalog formats or as custom trusted-weight dry powders or custom pre-made process liquids.  Bulk catalog chemicals
Process liquid preparation

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Vaccine QA/QC

To ensure a recombinant vaccine candidate is safe, effective, and accepted by regulatory authorities, Thermo Fisher Scientific provides instruments for critical in‐depth analytical characterization, quality assurance (QA), and quality control (QC) research and development. Most vaccine antigens are complex glycoproteins and a range of analytical technologies can be used for QC analytical testing development, including:


Chromatography and mass spectrometry technology for vaccine candidate QA/QC research and development

Chromeleon CDS
Thermo Scientific Chromeleon chromatography data software (CDS) supports chromatography and mass spectrometry operations from research to routine GMP quality testing. It's a compliance-ready enterprise solution designed for tracking, accountability, and QA/QC development.

Vanquish Core HPLC
The new Thermo Scientific Vanquish Core HPLC System is built for the rigors of GxP environments such as pharmaceutical quality control (QC) method development.

Precision Pipetting: Thermo Scientific Clip Tip Pipetting System
Sealed in security, feel the difference. It all starts with our interlocking pipette technology. Breakthrough Thermo Scientific ClipTip technology makes daily pipetting a totally new experience. The pipetting system locks tips firmly in place so they will not loosen or leak, regardless of application pressure.

Water purification
Flexible lab systems designed for your applications. For more than 130 years, Thermo Scientific lab water systems have been a trusted resource for science and industry. Our complete line of water purification technologies includes solutions for your most critical and everyday application needs, from electrodeionization to reverse osmosis and distillation.

 
Purity and impurities
Excipients & adjuvants
Host cell proteins
Released glycans
Monosaccharide composition and sialic acid content
Glycan site profiling
Intact glycoprotein profiling
Reverse phase HPLC
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SEC
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IC
 
 
 
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LC-MS
 
 
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