Innovative Facility to Produce Cell-Based Pandemic Influenza Vaccine

Source: Pediatric Supersite


A new manufacturing plant built in North Carolina as part of a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Inc. will be the first in the United States to produce a flu vaccine using cultured animal cells, rather than with fertilized eggs. The facility could be authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to produce the vaccine during a pandemic, as the process is much faster and flexible than the traditional method of making flu vaccines. Robin Robinson, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, says the plant’s dedication marks “the first change in influenza vaccine manufacturing in the United States in 50 years” and calls it “a major milestone in national preparedness for pandemic influenza and other diseases.” Researchers hope the cell-based technology can be used to create emergency vaccines for other infectious diseases. With the help of Rockville, Md.-based Synthetic Genomics Vaccines, HHS and Novartis are working on new technologies to speed up vaccine manufacturing. As part of a World Health Organization initiative to enhance influenza vaccine production, HHS and Novartis are collaborating with North Carolina State University to educate international scientists on the cell culture-based approach to vaccine production.