Fighting the spread of viruses: Producing cheap vaccines, quickly

November 2, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Immunising people with vaccines that are quick and inexpensive to produce is the answer to preventing large-scale spread of infectious disease, Professor Anton Middelberg from UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology says.

Using modern molecular and bioprocessing tools, Professor Middelberg and his team are developing vaccines that can be changed and manufactured for the entire Australian population within days of a appearing.

"The new vaccines we are developing are also much cheaper to mass-produce than traditional technologies, so are relevant where cost is an issue – for example, in the ," Professor Middelberg said.

"We use biotechnology to create the safe parts of a virus, and then we use nanotechnology to assemble these building blocks into a virus-like particle (VLP) in a reactor.

"VLPs resemble viruses but, as they only use the safe part of the virus, they are not infectious.

"However, being a safe mimic of the dangerous virus, they raise an excellent .

"Biotechnology allows us to make VLPs rapidly using bacteria, and the VLPs can be manipulated within reactors (not cells) to change composition and the new disease-causing agent.

"This enables an incredibly fast response to new threats."

Professor Middelberg said vaccines needed to be affordable.

"They need to be quickly mass produced once we identify a mutated or new virus – and certainly before it causes widespread disease," he said.

Current are made using egg-based technologies first developed in the 1930s.

"If we are surprised by a sudden change, as with in 2009, people die while they wait for the vaccine composition to 'catch up' with the new virus,"
Professor Middelberg said.

"This issue of speed is also critical for other new and emerging viruses that may invade from overseas, or even locally.

"We simply can't make vaccines fast enough.

"Such radical re-engineering of the system we use to make and deliver new vaccines will have a huge impact on how we can prevent disease, particularly in developing countries, and will bolster another old saying, 'prevention is better than cure'."

Explore further: H1N1 discovery paves way for universal flu vaccine: research

Related Stories

H1N1 discovery paves way for universal flu vaccine: research

May 8, 2012
University of British Columbia researchers have found a potential way to develop universal flu vaccines and eliminate the need for seasonal flu vaccinations.

Recommended for you

Female mouse embryos actively remove male reproductive systems

August 17, 2017
A protein called COUP-TFII determines whether a mouse embryo develops a male reproductive tract, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The ...

Two-step process leads to cell immortalization and cancer

August 17, 2017
A mutation that helps make cells immortal is critical to the development of a tumor, but new research at the University of California, Berkeley suggests that becoming immortal is a more complicated process than originally ...

New Pathology Atlas maps genes in cancer to accelerate progress in personalized medicine

August 17, 2017
A new Pathology Atlas is launched today with an analysis of all human genes in all major cancers showing the consequence of their corresponding protein levels for overall patient survival. The difference in expression patterns ...

New technique overcomes genetic cause of infertility

August 17, 2017
Scientists have created healthy offspring from genetically infertile male mice, offering a potential new approach to tackling a common genetic cause of human infertility.

Are stem cells the link between bacteria and cancer?

August 17, 2017
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths, primarily because most patients present at an advanced stage of the disease. The main cause of this cancer is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ...

Inhibiting a protein found to reduce progression of Alzheimer's and ALS in mice

August 17, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with Genetech Inc. and universities in Hamburg and San Francisco has found that inhibiting the creation of a protein leads to a reduction in the progression of Alzheimer's disease ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.