Researchers are working round-the-clock on a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which can trigger the respiratory illness COVID-19. According to the WHO, 100 projects aimed at the development of a vaccine are currently underway (as of May 2020). As part of that effort, pharmaceutical companies all over the world are working on very different kinds of vaccines. A field in which Wacker Biotech also operates as a contract manufacturer.
As a CDMO (contract and development manufacturing organization), Wacker Biotech is a service provider. “We develop production processes and manufacture vaccines for our pharmaceutical industry customers, but we don’t do concept design or marketing ourselves,” explains Dr. Philippe Cronet, who leads the development of biotechnological production processes at Wacker Biotech – an area of responsibility that includes vaccines. What Wacker Biotech experts do contribute are over 20 years of experience developing and producing living microorganisms, proteins and polysaccharides. The company’s portfolio extends from strain/process development to analytical testing to production for clinical and commercial applications.
Broad vaccine portfolio
The vaccines already produced at Wacker Biotech range from classic live and killed vaccines to protein-based, polysaccharide and glycoconjugate vaccines. The field is large, and development is ongoing.
It can take ten to twelve years on average to move from the research phase to approval. In the case of a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, however, scientists are hoping that an accelerated process could bring us to that goal within 12 to 18 months. The only reason that might be possible is because most of the vaccine candidates rely on highly efficient discovery and clinical testing platforms that have been developed for other pathogens. Researchers have already re-engineered existing vaccines by swapping out their genetic sequences so that they will respond to SARS-CoV-2.
From preclinical to clinical development, from vaccine manufacturing to market delivery: Wacker Biotech supports its customers throughout the whole vaccine supply chain. An individual production process is developed for each vaccine (candidate) and adapted to the stage of development that a given vaccine has reached. “Depending on the vaccine, that takes ten to fifteen months,” says Cronet. Once the process is in place, millions of doses of vaccine can be produced within one to two weeks.
Wacker Biotech has also received inquiries regarding the production of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. Discussions are ongoing with these companies to determine how Wacker Biotech can potentially support them with the production of these vaccines.
Wacker Biotech operates three sites where therapeutic proteins and living microbial products (LMPs) are manufactured alongside vaccines. The two German sites are located in Jena and Halle (Wacker Biotech GmbH). There is also a site in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Wacker Biotech B.V.). The production facilities are subject to the highest quality standards. This is known as Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). They are certified by both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Wacker Biotech GmbH and Wacker Biotech B.V. are both wholly owned subsidiaries of Wacker Chemie AG.
WACKER's efforts against coronavirus
Vaccines offer protection from an array of infectious diseases, such as polio, typhus, cholera, hepatitis A and B and HPV.