$1.2 Million Awarded To Replace Animals in Yellow Fever Vaccine Development

Newcells Biotech says current in vitro liver models lack immune competency during vaccine development
macaques sitting together on a tree limb
(Precision Vaccinations)

Newcells Biotech announced that they are the Phase II contract winners of the NC3Rs-funded ‘CRACK IT Challenge’.

UK-based Newcells’s announcement on December 16, 2019, says it has been awarded further funding to continue the development of their human-induced pluripotent stem cell model of the human liver that is metabolically and immunologically competent for the routine assessment of Yellow Fever vaccine attenuation.

According to Newcells statement, ‘current in vitro liver models lack immune competency.’ 

A functional liver model that can accurately recreate the complexity of the organ is needed to assess viscerotropism (the tendency to attack or affect the viscera) and reduce the use of animals in the testing of new vaccine products.

“We are creating a user-friendly, in vitro human liver sinusoid system, that will respond to Yellow Fever virus infection similarly to in vivo liver, and that can be introduced easily into the viral containment systems used during manufacture and quality control,” said Dr. Mike Nicholds, Newcells’s CEO, in a press release.

“This third award from NC3Rs demonstrates our ongoing commitment to designing innovative assays to replace the use of animals in drug development.”

Newcells’ sinusoid model will be constructed entirely from liver cell types generated from hepatocytes and endothelial cells, in addition to those cells of the immune system typically resident in or invading the liver during viral infection. 

The hiPSC-based model will allow the monitoring of response to the Yellow Fever virus and assessment of how the infection alters the metabolic performance of the liver sinusoid.

Dr. Cathy Vickers, Head of Innovation at the NC3Rs commented, “The NC3Rs is delighted to support this important Challenge that has the potential when combined with other in vitro methods, to replace the use of non-human primates in the evaluation of Yellow Fever Virus vaccines.”

Yellow Fever (YF) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus disease characterized by the impairment of liver function, leading to severe illness and death. The YF vaccine used to prevent the disease is based upon a live but inactivated form of the YF virus (attenuated vaccine). 

The safety of new seed lots of the YF vaccine is currently assessed in non-human primates (cynomologus macaques). Animals are inoculated with a test dose of the vaccine and clinical observations, blood sampling, and post-mortem histology are performed to examine whether the animals develop any signs of YF.

Sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer of the YF vaccine, this challenge aims to develop a functional liver model that can recapitulate as much as possible the complexity of the organ for the routine assessment of the YF vaccine attenuation and replace the use of macaques in the safety testing of these products.

Newcells Biotech is focused on using our proprietary technology to deliver the best biology into our assays products and services that give discovery and safety teams data that reduces risk and raises productivity in drug and chemical development.

Yellow Fever Vaccine news published by Precision Vaccinations