Influenza, commonly known as “the flu”, is an infectious disease caused by a virus. Influenza spreads around the world in a yearly outbreak, resulting in about three to five million cases of severe illness and about 290,000–650,000 respiratory deaths. The influenza vaccine is recommended for high-risk groups, such as children, the elderly, health care workers and people with certain chronic illnesses. However, due to the high mutation rate of the virus, the required influenza vaccine composition needs to be reviewed each year and reformulated often, based on the strains of virus predicted to be most prevalent in the following year. The holy grail of influenza vaccinology is developing a universal vaccine that protects against a wide range of virus strains and subtypes, thereby eliminating the need for seasonal vaccine reformulation and providing an effective defense against viruses with pandemic potential.
Generating antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) responses appears to be an important mechanism by which vaccines confer protective immunity against viruses such as influenza. Working to develop a universal flu vaccine, researchers at Janssen Pharmaceutical, Infectious Diseases and Vaccines use the Promega ADCC Reporter Bioassays to help select vaccine candidates for broad protective immunity. In similar studies, researchers across the globe are using the ADCC Reporter Bioassays to develop vaccines against HIV, herpes simplex virus, Zika virus and ebolavirus.
Expanding the Capabilities of the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries
Scientists developing small molecule drugs within the pharmaceutical industry need reliable assays and reagents because they can screen >100,000 compounds in a single run. Successful screening demands minimal intervention (e.g., plate washes, multiple liquid transfers, etc.) to avoid experimental variability, offering high reproducibility. The in vitro data should predict in vivo results so that expensive failures such as false positives and off-target effects are avoided—the fail early model.
For many drugs, the targets are not known and the challenge is identifying the specific target of the small molecule, which produces the desired result. Using the Promega NanoBRET™ Target Engagement Assay, researchers can quantitatively measure the interaction between a molecule and a protein in live cells. In some cases, you can measure these interactions in real-time, observing not only the formation of the interaction but also the dissociation of the partners. Similar technology allows researchers to specifically label proteins via CRSIPR knock-in as well as study protein degradation.
Scientists in the biopharmaceutical industry need the best analytical tools to functionally and structurally characterize large molecule “biologic” therapeutics. Promega has a suite of bioluminescent, cell-based reporter bioassays that are used in the discovery and development phases of biologics. Immuno-oncology has become a hot research area representing a more targeted approach in the fight against cancer. Cancers have developed multiple ways to evade the human immune system and immuno-oncology can beat cancer at its own game. We have a rapidly expanding portfolio of reporter bioassays for immune checkpoints, key nodes in the pathways of multiple cancers. In addition, Promega has generated many proprietary enzymes used in the structural characterization of biologics by mass spectrometry.