Vaccine research: Dr Sammy Farah, President at Synthetic Genomics Vaccines, Inc. (SGVI), delivered a presentation at the World Vaccine Congress about the Recent research advancements in synthetic biology important for vaccine development.
Key points on his presentation include:
Synthetic biology is the application of engineering principles to the fundamental components of biology. It is being used to build new biological-based systems which display novel functions or re-design natural biological systems for useful purposes
According to Farrah, synthetic biology thinks of DNA as the "software of life" and biologists are the software engineers who are programming biological operating systems.
Farrah's company, Synthetic Genomics Vaccines Inc. (SGVI) has overcome the issue of assembling large DNA segments and installation and activation of a foreign genome in a recipient cell so it could be come a replicating cell.
Assembly of large DNA segments has been developed using two methods, enabling rapid, affordable and accurate synthesis of genes, chromosomes and entire organisms.
In collaboration with Novartis, SGVI is developing a process to make influenza vaccines that will reach market faster and with improved yield by employing synthetically-derived virus stock seeds. In the future, we could pre-make vaccine seeds for circulating strains to assemble vaccine quickly.
Farrah says that the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 confirmed everyone's fears – many cases were reported before a vaccine was available. SGVI worked with Novartis to see if timing could be tightened from when the WHO makes strain recommendation and vaccine virus seeds are available. This timeline is currently 35 days. Using synthetic seeds, timeline can be shortened to 5 days.
Synthetic vaccinology is using synthetic cell technology to develop live-attenuated vaccine for bovine lung plague (Bovine Pleuro Pnemonia). There are currently no methods for genetically modifying the disease agent, mycoplasma mycoides. As modern vaccinology embarks on overcoming the challenges of complexity and diversity that characterize most remaining vaccine targets, advanced technology solutions will be needed.
Great Presentation Dr Sammy