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Post-Pandemic Pharmaceutical and Vaccine R&D: NLAC and NDMC Establish Platform for Preclinical Vaccine Efficacy Testing

With the rise of the novel coronavirus and outbreaks of severe infectious pneumonia, the global pandemic continues to intensify. As SARS-CoV-2 continues to mutate and even become flu-like, it delivers blow after blow to medical systems. At this stage, vaccination is the world's best strategy to protect against the pandemic, but different vaccines against different strains of the virus vary in their degree of protection. As we face constant viral mutations, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) is strongly supporting scientists in the research and development of pharmaceuticals and vaccines to more effectively boost and maintain herd immunity.

To support the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines and pharmaceuticals in Taiwan, NARLabs' National Laboratory Animal Center (NLAC), under MOST, and the National Defense Medical Center (NDMC) have joined forces to establish a testing platform for preclinical vaccine efficacy. NDMC's Core Facilities Platform for Emerging Infectious Diseases, funded by MOST's Department of Life Sciences, pROVides high-protection laboratories for preclinical animal testing, while NLAC assists by completing follow-up examination of infected animals. Testing includes pathological diagnosis and immunology-related tests to analyze the distribution of virus particles in tissues, symptoms, and immune responses after COVID-19 infection, as well as antibodies produced, tissue infiltration of different immune cell populations, changes in the composition of immune cells, and pathological changes after the use of potential pharmaceuticals or vaccines. This research will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of these pharmaceuticals or vaccines.

This joint platform between NLAC and NDMC is the only one in Taiwan pROViding a one-stop service ranging from P3 biosafety animal laboratories, to immunologic tissue staining, pathological diagnosis, blood biochemistry analysis, and immune biomarker analysis. Combined, such testing can portray the immune response profiles of animals before and after COVID-19 infection, before and after pharmaceutical treatment, and before and after vaccination, accelerating the development of effective treatments and protection strategies for Taiwan's R&D teams.