February 2021
Vol 7, Issue 6

About The Cover

Cover image expansion

ONLINE COVER Conjugate vaccines, which combine a weak antigen with a strong antigen to provoke a more powerful immune system response to the weak antigen, are known to be one of the most effective approaches for preventing bacterial infections. However, existing manufacturing approaches present a major barrier to making these vaccines broadly accessible, since they typically rely on centralized production and cold chain distribution (requiring equipment and logistics for constant refrigeration). This, in turn, limits the reach of vaccine campaigns and slows the medical response to outbreaks even if a vaccine itself is quite effective. To overcome this obstacle, Stark et al. developed a cell-free technology for portable, on-demand in vitro conjugate vaccine expression (iVAX) using freeze-dried lysates from detoxified, nonpathogenic Escherichia coli bacteria. This technology can synthesize multiple doses of conjugate vaccines against a number of bacterial pathogens in only an hour. When mice were immunized with iVAX-derived conjugate vaccines against the pathogen Franciscella tularensis, they were completely protected from infection. The authors conclude that this advance in conjugate vaccine biomanufacturing technology could accelerate the production of new vaccine candidates to protect against a variety of bacterial pathogens. [CREDIT: JUSTIN MUIR]