Nicolas Collin joined UNIL in January 2010 upon the creation of the Vaccine Formulation Laboratory and has since been leading the group. Nicolas is a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine and Doctor in Molecular Virology (Toulouse, France). His previous positions included: project leader on gene therapy (Transgene, Strasbourg France), post-doctoral fellow on leishmania vaccines (National Institutes of Health, Washington DC, USA) and technical officer on pandemic influenza vaccines at the World Health Organization (Geneva, Switzerland).
◆ THE VACCINE FORMULATION LABORATORY
Adjuvants are increasingly used by the vaccine research and development community, particularly for their ability to enhance immune responses and for their dose-sparing properties. However, they are not readily available to the majority of vaccine research groups, and even those with access to suitable adjuvants may still fail in the development of their vaccines because of lack of knowledge on how to correctly formulate the adjuvants. This shortcoming led the World Health Organization to promote the establishment of the Vaccine Formulation Laboratory at the University of Lausanne, in January 2010. The VFL acts as a center of expertise for adjuvants with the following activities:
The VFL has recently initiated the European Network of Vaccine Adjuvants (ENOVA), a COST Action, funded through the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020. ENOVA brings together European experts and stakeholders working in different areas of vaccine adjuvants, including both prophylactic and therapeutic applications as well as human and veterinary vaccines. The ultimate goals of the network are to facilitate communication and the exchange of information amongst its members, to ensure that new discoveries are widely disseminated so that their potential can be of optimal benefit, to promote the best use of existing adjuvant technologies, and to encourage and support the development of novel adjuvants. For more information, please visit the ENOVA webpage .
1. Supply of adjuvant systems
The Vaccine Formulation Laboratory can provide a variety of adjuvant systems for preclinical use, including adjuvants manufactured in house and proprietary adjuvants provided under material transfer agreements. Support on manufacturing and development of analytical methods for these adjuvants can also be provided.
2. Vaccine formulation services
The Vaccine Formulation Laboratory can provide formulation services to a variety of collaborators worldwide.
VFL services include formulation of several adjuvant systems with collaborator's antigens and its characterization by in vitro and in vivo assays.
The VFL is currently involved in 5 programs funded under the European Commission's Framework Programme H2020:
- TRANSVAC2 (2017-2022): accelerating vaccine development. External groups can apply for free of charge services, including formulation studies.
- OPTIMALVAX (2017-2021): optimizing a deployable high efficacy malaria vaccine
- EHVA (2015-2020): discovering and evaluating novel prophylactic and therapeutic HIV vaccine candidates (http://www.ehv-a.eu/)
- TBVAC2020 (2015-2019): advancing novel and promising TB vaccine candidates from discovery to preclinical and early clinical development
- SAPHIR (2015-2019): strengthening animal production and health through the immune response
Of note, groups can apply to access the VFL formulation services outside of any EC programme. The VFL has previously conducted formulation services projects for the Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) as well as academic institutions and private companies working in the field of adjuvanted vaccines.
3. Technology Transfer to developing countries
The VFL is engaged in the transfer of adjuvant technology to vaccine manufactures, with a particular focus on developing countries.
The SNF (Swiss National Fund) recently awarded the VFL with two grants for international development and cooperation in the field of vaccines
- R4D project (2016-2019): Innovative adjuvanted influenza vaccines: A Swiss - Indonesian collaboration towards better pandemic influenza preparedness.
- THAIVACC project (2018-2020): Novel Leptospirosis and Dengue Fever Vaccines for Thailand
Previous activities of technology transfer to developing countries included a programme sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) which selected the Vaccine Formulation Laboratory to transfer the know-how for manufacturing an oil-in-water emulsion for adjuvantation of pandemic influenza vaccines in Indonesia. This project included the installation of equipment required for production and characterization of oil-in-water emulsions, the establishment of relevant standard operating procedures, training of laboratory staff, and validation of the transferred processes in Indonesia (Ventura, Brunner et al. 2013).
In June 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the Vaccine Formulation Laboratory to develop novel inactivated polio vaccine formulations based on aluminium salts, in order to achieve dose-sparing.
This effort is part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and aims at making inactivated polio vaccines affordable for developing countries. The clinical studies following this project will be conducted to confirm the immunogenicity of the reduced dose of aluminium-based adjuvanted vaccine.
The Vaccine Formulation Laboratory offers theoretical courses and hands-on training on adjuvants, including training on good practices in vaccine formulation, training on quality control of adjuvanted vaccines, and courses on preclinical evaluation of adjuvanted vaccines (stability, immunogenicity, etc.). Within the last years, the Vaccine Formulation Laboratory has conducted over 20 training courses.
Example of past training courses:
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