A cracking new method: Valneva and Bavarian Nordic’s hen egg alternative

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

iStock/agafapaperiapunta
iStock/agafapaperiapunta

Related tags: Biotechnology

European biotech companies Valneva and Bavarian Nordic have entered a commercial agreement to develop cell-based vaccines using production methods that are faster and cheaper than methods that use hen’s eggs. 

Denmark’s Bavarian Nordic will use France-based Valneva’s EB66 cell-line technology in the early stages of vaccine production, with the aim being to develop commercial-scale production processes for multiple vaccines.  

Valneva’s EB66 cell line is derived from duck embryonic stem cells. Used for both human and veterinary vaccines, the cell line offers an alternative to the use of chicken eggs.

“We have taken a license to the EB66 cell line from Valneva to explore if utilising their cell line (versus our method of chicken embryo fibroblasts) could be an improvement over our current production methods. This could relate to yield, margins, time, etc.” ​Bavarian Nordic told In-PharmaTechnologist.

Hen egg alternatives can improve the speed and flexibility of production. Vaccine manufacture using hen eggs can be cumbersome, taking months to produce each batch of vaccine. Shortages can also impact on vaccine supply, and the risk of pathogen or pandemic affecting chicken and egg stocks is problematic for maintaining vaccine stocks.

EB66 precedent

The Danish company did not disclose which vaccines would be involved in the license agreement, although it said that current production methods for its smallpox franchise and cancer programs would not be altered.  

“This new partnership is of significant strategic importance for Valneva as it could be the first time that a late stage clinical vaccine development program is transferred to our EB66 cell line and could therefore set a precedent” ​said Valneva’s CEO Thomas Lingelbach and Deputy CEO Franck Grimaud.

Financial details of the partnership have not been disclosed, but Valneva said they do include upfront payments, milestones and future royalties on sales.

Related topics: Bio Developments, Cell lines

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