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Are there current vaccines in development that are using cell lines from aborted fetal cells?

By Alan Moy, MD

In my previously post, most of the COVID-19 vaccines are based on subunit approaches because they are easy to design. Subunit vaccine produce viral proteins indirectly by using synthetic nucleic acid (DNA or RNA), which do not require cultured cells; or can be directly synthesized using a cultured cell. Human cell lines are typically preferred to produce viral proteins, but they carry a moral controversy because the only available human cell lines in the past were derived from past abortions. Non-human cells, which are free of moral controversy, can be used but they produce suboptimal vaccines because the resulting protein is not fully human. Any vaccine based on an adenovirus platform uses an aborted fetal cell (either HEK293 or PERC6). The following is a list of biopharmaceutical companies and academic centers (as well as the Institute's vaccine program) that are developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

1. Moderna - mRNA-1273 - a mRNA vaccine-based on synthetic RNA. It is cell free.
2. China's CanSino Biologics - adenovirus-based viral vector vaccine - uses an aborted cell line.
3. Inovio - DNA based vaccine-cell free.
4. Johnson and Johnson - adenovirus-based platform - uses the PERC6 cell line.
5. University of Pittsburgh - recombinant subunit vaccine based on HEK293 cell.
6. Sanofi - RNA vaccine, partnership with Translate Bio, cell free.
7. Sanofi - recombinant protein, partnership with Protein Sciences, uses a SF9 insect cell.
8. JP2MRI and Cellular Engineering Technologies - subunit recombinant protein, cord blood and placenta cells.
9. JP2MRI and Cellular Engineering Technologies - live attenuated vaccine based on cord blood and placenta cells.

As more vaccine candidates appear on the radar screen, we will post them.

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