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Development of a CHO-based Upstream Process for Rapid Production of Coronavirus Antigen Variants

This project aims to improve future pandemic preparedness by creating a CHO-based platform capable of moving viral gene sequence to the production of recombinant antigen at benchtop scale quantities in 14 – 16 weeks, a 50% timeline reduction.

Industry Need

  • Expression of viral antigen proteins for vaccine production in Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells takes time. Decreasing this production time is vital to improve pandemic preparedness. 


Millipore Sigma aims to create a platform capable of expressing viral antigen proteins for vaccine production in CHO cells at small scale in 14–16 weeks. This will be achieved by developing versatile workflows, gene expression vectors that can be adapted for novel antigen proteins, and templated small scale bioreactor processes to improve viral antigen product yields. 

 The goals of this project are to: 

  • Develop an expression vector toolbox to enable the selection of an expression vector to produce viral antigens at higher yields 
  • Reduce the time required for cell line development, increasing project capacity per employee 
  • Significantly reduce the amount of screening for cells that contain the correct viral protein during cell line development 
  • Enhance and accelerate the transition from small scale to production scale for difficult to express proteins 

Outcomes and Impacts

The project's successful completion will enable faster delivery of valuable reagents to scientists and, specifically, vaccines (e.g., coronavirus) and biologic medicines to patients by reducing the overall timeline for protein production by more than 50%.

Updates, Related Publications, and Deliverables

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Project Lead

MilliporeSigma/EMD Serono

MilliporeSigma/EMD Serono