EPR Podcast Episode 4 – UV/Vis in mRNA vaccine QC with Dr Hans-Joachim Muhr, Mettler Toledo

Join Mettler Toledo’s Dr Hans-Joachim Muhr as he explains the key quality considerations for mRNA vaccines and why UV/Vis spectrophotometry should be applied in their QA/QC.

With their success in the fight against COVID-19, messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines have taken the world by storm. However, despite existing in the literature for years, the pandemic was the first time an mRNA vaccine had been granted regulatory approval, and thus, for much of the industry, this is the first time manufacturing and ensuring the quality of mRNA vaccines. With Pfizer revealing >50 percent of its COVID-19 vaccine’s production time being devoted to testing and quality assurance, what techniques enable mRNA vaccine quality to be assessed at each stage?

In this podcast, Dr Hans-Joachim Muhr, Head of SPG UV/VIS at Mettler Toledo GmbH, Analytical, explains the key QA/QC considerations for mRNA vaccines, and how ultraviolet–visible (UV/Vis) spectrophotometry can be applied synergistically with other analytical techniques throughout the vaccine development and production lifecycle to ensure quality.

UV/Vis spectrophotometry is a type of absorption spectroscopy which detects to what extend a sample absorbs visible and ultraviolet light to determine its chemical composition.

Dr Hans-Joachim Muhr, Head of SPG UV/VIS at Mettler Toledo GmbH, Analytical

Dr Hans-Joachim Muhr, Head of SPG UV/VIS at Mettler Toledo GmbH, Analytical

When asked what the challenges are when ensuring the quality of mRNA vaccines, Dr Muhr explained that one of the major challenges is that, despite the successes of the vaccines, “we are still in the development of COVID-19 vaccines and the quality check processes are still not fully established with the manufacturers. They are trying to set up a universally standardised protocol to maintain the integrity and safety throughout the manufacturing.”

He described how UV/Vis could contribute to ensuring vaccine quality and safety in conjunction with other analytical methods such as electrophoresis, HPLC, etc, “because every technique is unique based on its principle. Every analytical technique determines specific parameters, such as melting point, provides different information about substance purity… these are like individual puzzle pieces that then need to be correctly set together to yield the correct picture.”

UV/Vis should be applied for mRNA vaccine QA/QC because it is a simple and well established analytical test method documented in pharmacopoeias, which can give accurate results quickly, according to Dr Muhr.

He went on to explain how UV/Vis could be applied in three separate aspects of mRNA vaccine development and QC: analysis of lipid nanoparticles during R&D, assessing raw materials at the beginning of production and measuring the purity and concentration of vaccine product during quality control.

Find out about all of this and more in this podcast, supported by Mettler Toledo GmbH.

Enjoyed this podcast? Let us know in the comments and look out for European Pharmaceutical Review’s next episode, coming soon!

Essential resources

  1. UV/Vis spectrophotometry supporting mRNA vaccine research whitepaper: read here
  2. Life Science Applications in UV/VIS Spectroscopy Webinar: watch now
  3. Mettler Toledo’s Life Science Toolbox: Life Science Applications in UV/VIS Spectrophotometry
  4. Mettler Toledo’s Nucleic Acid Poster
  5. Software and Data Integrity: Data Integrity – Compliance Solutions for UV/VIS Spectrophotometry (Mettler Toledo)