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Exploring Novel Vaccine Characterization Methodologies

April 8, 2020


  • Why protein secondary structure characterization in vaccine development is important
  • Current technology for secondary structure studies
  • AQS³pro results for measuring & quantifying aggregation, quantitation, stability, similarity and structure

The nature and composition of a vaccine makes them inherently difficult to characterize. The active ingredient such as a toxoid or protein subunit is often in very low concentration. The adjuvant, such as alum, can often be in quite high concentration relative to the biologic, and its particle size can range from nanometers, to microns. Adding preservatives and antibiotics to the mix, the result is a material with such diverse properties that many typical analytical tools struggle to measure the formulated product.

In this webinar we will discuss some typical workflows used to characterize the properties of vaccines, looking at properties such as particle size, surface charge, aggregation and protein secondary structure. In this discussion we will highlight the strengths of Microfluidic Modulation Spectroscopy, a novel method to examine protein secondary structure in complex systems such as vaccines.

Following this, two practical applications of MMS will be presented, The first example examines the aggregation properties of a vaccine system in comparison to existing dye based techniques. The second will introduce the use of MMS to characterize a biosimilar product, used as a linker in vaccine products.

Merck: “Identification of Intermolecular Beta-Sheet Aggregation Using Microfluidic Modulation Spectroscopy”
Fina Biosolutions: “Microfluidic Modulation Spectroscopy for Protein Characterization: A Case Study with EcoCRM®, CRM197 Carrier Protein”


Dr Patrick Ahl

Patrick Ahl
Assistant Principal Scientist, Merck

My current research at Merck focuses on fostering innovation in my department to accelerate & improve vaccine formulation development. Innovation efforts include liquid handling robotics, differential scanning fluorometry, dynamic light scattering, automated western gel electrophoresis, and FTIR spectroscopy. In addition, I provide scientific & technical leadership to the largest and most challenging vaccine formulation program at Merck. I mentor undergraduate summer student research at West Point. Prior to joining Merck, I developed liposome-based drug delivery at The Liposome Company in Princeton, NJ. I Learned FTIR spectroscopy from Dr. Kenneth Rothchild as a Post-Doc at Boston University & MIT. I am a Ph.D. graduate of the Thomas C. Jenkins Department of Biophysics at Johns Hopkins University under Dr. Richard Cone. Penn State undergraduate.

Andrew Lees

Andrew Lees
Founder and scientific director of Fina Biosolutions

Andrew Lees is the founder and scientific director of Fina Biosolutions LLC, in Rockville, MD. He is an expert in the chemistry of conjugate vaccines with over 25 patents to his name and an author on over 70 peer-reviewed articles.  Conjugation chemistry developed by Dr. Lees is used by GSK, the Serum Institute of India, the Chengdu Institute of Biological Products and others in their S. pneumonia and meningococcal conjugate vaccines.   Much of his career has focused on helping to make conjugate vaccines more affordable.

Dr. Lees is also an Associate Professor at the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  Andrew Lees holds a BS in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from The Johns Hopkins University. He is a Johns Hopkins Distinguished Alumni.

Matthew McGann

Matthew McGann
Field Applications and Marketing Manager, RedShiftBio

Matthew McGann is an industry specialist in biopharmaceutical product development, including candidate screening, formulation development, stability assessment, and particle detection technologies. Matthew joined RedShiftBio as the Field Applications and Marketing Manager. Prior to RedShiftBio Matthew worked as a Biopharmaceutical Applications specialist, and Segment Marketing Manager - Pharma and Food, with Malvern Panalytical where he gained experience with a broad range of technologies for the biopharmaceutical industry, and worked with organizations both in the US and across Europe and South East Asia to develop key biopharmaceutical technologies.

Matthew gained a Master of Chemistry from the University of Sydney, where he studied the synthesis, in-vivo, in-vitro, and in-silico properties of antifreeze glycoproteins. Prior to his move into sales, Matthew spend several years in a variety of research positions at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, developing encapsulation methods for pharmaceuticals using Sol-Gel technology. Through his research, Matthew has gained experience in a wide range of materials characterization and protein characterization techniques applicable to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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