Lithoz GmbH, Vienna, Austria, has initiated a research project called Nessie, along with SINTEF, a research organisation located in Oslo, Norway, and IBET, a biopharmaceutical research centre based in Lisbon, Portugal, to produce complex vaccines in large quantities at low cost by using ceramic Additive Manufacturing. Along with Lithoz, Sintef, and iBET, GenIbet and Cerpotech have also joined the project bringing with them their expertise on the manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals and innovative materials, respectively.
The project partners explain that the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance and the great need of vaccines that can effectively combat such diseases. However, the development of an effective vaccine involves much effort and the highest safety standards, which means production is often slow and very expensive. Nessie addresses these weaknesses specifically and aims to increase the efficiency with which vaccines are produced and is already contributing to the development of novel methods to purify viruses, such as adenovirus.
According to the project partners, adenoviruses are excellent vectors for delivering genes or vaccine antigens to humans, with many of the successful vaccines actually using viruses to deliver the necessary elements to become immune. However, such viruses are expensive to produce and like many substances used for humans, there is extra caution with the purity and purification of these viruses. By using ultra-high resolution ceramic Additive Manufacturing and applying a novel design for the production of chromatographic columns (the most advanced purification technology), the Nessie project will improve separation and reduce production costs. Nessie reportedly succeeded in the production of the first
chromatographic supports and will soon test them for adenovirus purification.
The Nessie research project is believed to show that revolutionary technologies such as AM can improve healthcare systems in a sustainable way. The novel process makes vaccines available to countries that previously could not afford the high cost of essential vaccines such as measles or rubella. The research project partners state that with the current closure and shortage of medical supplies, Additive Manufacturing has proven that local manufacturing can be more than just making prototypes; AM is helping to quickly produce components regardless of location and without being dependent on complex supply chains.