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Experts explain AstraZeneca’s production without animal ingredients

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Lecturer at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) School of Pharmacy, Aluicia Anita Artarini, explained the series of processes for making AstraZeneca vaccines free from animal components.

“In the production stage carried out by Oxford-AstraZeneca, ingredients that are derived from pork are not used,” he said in a Limited Discussion entitled ‘How is the COVID-19 vaccine made and what is contained in it?’ which was broadcast via the Zoom app, Monday.

Anita said the AstraZeneca vaccine is a new form of vaccine because it contains Adenovirus DNA modified by removing E1 and E3 genes, then inserting genetic material for the spike protein SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.

Also read: The AstraZeneca vaccine does not use animal trypsin, but mushrooms

Adenovirus DNA containing the spike gene is transformed into E coli bacteria and then purified before being inserted into HEK293 cells, which are mammalian cells.

“If you don’t have these mammalian cells, you can buy them anywhere. What Oxford-AstraZeneca is doing is buying HEK293 from supplier Thermo Fisher,” he said.

HEK293 cells are released from the plates using the enzyme trypsin or a protein which is used to speed up biochemical reactions. The cells were then washed with a liquid medium in a centrifuge to remove trypsin and other solutions.

The goal is that the cells are not damaged and the liquid medium is added back so that the cells are in a suspension solution so that they can be used for further processing. Generally 1 x 10 cells in 1 ml, said Anita.

“The trypsin enzyme is used to release host cells by suppliers before being purchased by Oxford-AstraZeneca, and does not come in direct contact with vaccines,” he said.

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Then Oxford-AstraZeneca multiplied the HEK293 cells obtained from Thermo Fisher as needed by releasing the cells on the plate using the TrypLET Select enzyme.

“TryPLE select used at Oxford-AstraZeneca is an enzyme from a fungus that is made recombinantly. Pork trypsin is not used anymore,” he said.

Anita said, the next process was carried out by washing, centrifugal and adding DMEM medium which is a basal medium consisting of vitamins, amino acids, salt, glucose, and pH indicators. Then proceed to the incubation process. “This process is repeated until the desired number of cells is obtained,” he said.

Furthermore, in the host cell bank phase for production, said Anita, the cells are reproduced and then added with the Adenovirus genome (transfection) to become the virus seeds before entering the production stage in the host cell bank.

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Reporter: Andi Firdaus
Editor: Triono Subagyo

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