The vaccine production process is continually refreshed by new tools and technologies. A process developed even a scant few years ago could now be woefully outdated.
That teeming innovation activity gives researchers numerous opportunities to adjust processes to achieve more cost-efficient or effective production scale up — something that's immensely helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it also imposes challenges on process development scientists: They're the ones who have to align and optimize new methods and means with legacy products and systems. And that can keep a scientist on their toes.
Customization not only can make this process less difficult but is actually essential. Because no one vendor can provide a complete solution from research through production, customization is inevitable to ensure that products and technologies from different vendors work together properly. By carefully crafting a customized modular process from end to end, process development scientists can glean the benefits of new technologies without starting from scratch with each new iteration, says John Yoshi Shyu, Ph.D. Shyu oversees Corning Life Sciences field and internal scientists who optimize processes for customers looking to design or augment their production plans.
"Plug-and-play systems don't really happen in the vaccine world," Shyu said. "As new technologies come into the field, labs have the challenge of linking existing systems with new technologies. Integrating new technologies and techniques into established practices requires precise customization. Sometimes, that can lead to conflict, as people comfortable with the current process are challenged to adapt to new technology and procedures. And there's always time pressure."
How can researchers working on vaccine production optimize their process with customization in mind? Shyu has a few suggestions.