Prevnar and the production of carbohydrate based vaccines

Case Study 4 – Prevnar and the production of carbohydrate based vaccines

Prevnar is a glycoconjugate vaccine against pneumonia used to fight infections caused by pneumococcal bacteria, and achieved annual sales of approximately $6 billion in 2015. Several variants are now available containing multiple serotypes of pneumococcus e.g. Prevnar 13 containing 13 serotypes.

These vaccines have established the principle of vaccine design based on microbial polysaccharides as a promising generic strategy. Recent advances in molecular biology and glycoscience provide us now with an opportunity to develop improved vaccines by addressing the issues around the carbohydrate component carbohydrate-based vaccines, and increasingly importantly, at the short timescales necessary to address antimicrobial resistance.

The fundamental glyco-technologies in analysis, synthesis, target development and production, combined in an integrated approach will provide the metrology needed for glycoconjugate vaccine development.

As for all drug development, vaccine research requires significant investment. However, the commercial success of Prevnar has shown that glycoconjugate vaccines present increasingly attractive targets in the ‘Biologics’ market for both human and animal health.

Further reading:

  • Micoli, P. Costantino, R. Adamo, Potential targets for next generation anti-microbial glycoconjugate vaccines FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2018, 42(3), 388-423.
  • Finn, Bacterial polysaccharide protein conjugate vaccines British Medical Bulletin, 2004, 70, 1-14.
  • F. G. Vliegenthart, Carbohydrate based vaccines FEBS Lett, 2006, 580, 2945-2950.
  • Glycobiology: Global Markets for Diagnostics and Therapeutics: BIO153A, BCC Research (2016). Available; Glycobiology/Glycomics Market. By Product [Enzymes (Glycosyltransferase, Neuraminidase, Glycosidase), Instruments (HPLC, Mass Spectrometry, MALDI-TOF), Kits, and Reagents], Application (Immunology, Oncology), Global Forecast to 2019. Available from
  • WHO (2017) Global priority list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to guide research, discovery, and development of new antibiotics.
  • Kingwell, Vaccines take a shot at antimicrobial resistance Nat. Rev. Drug. Discov., 2018, 17 (4), 229-231.
CarboMet - Case Study - EPO
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European Union flag This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 737395.