Oxford Expression Technologies: Improving the development of vaccines

  • development of vaccines

    Oxford Expression Technologies

    Oxford Expression Technologies (OET)

    Oxford Expression Technologies (OET) is a spin out company launched jointly by Oxford Brookes University and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to develop new technologies to enable companies and institutions to advance their drug discovery and vaccine development programmes.

    Leading research by Linda King at Oxford Brookes and Professor Robert Posse from the NERC, has had a major impact on the biotechnology sector.

    Since the early 1990's baculoviruses have been used for producing complex proteins in insect cells. These insect-specific, recombinant viruses are used in research and to produce vaccines in human and veterinary medical treatments.

    Previously, the process to make these recombinant viruses was notoriously time consuming and demanding; but thanks to the work of Professor King and Professor Posse a new baculovirus expression system, known commercially as flashBACTM, was developed making it possible to produce viruses in a quicker and easier one-step process.

    Global success

    The innovative technology flashBACTMdeveloped by Professor King and Professor Possee in the academic sector resulted in a range of easy to use kits allowing users to make recombinant proteins rapidly and conveniently. While competitor baculovirus expression products exist, the genetic backbone of these has not been further developed since launching in the mid-1990s. 

    This has meant that flashBACTM is the only product which has been genetically modified to improve the quantity and the quality of `difficult to express' proteins and at the same time enable high throughput, simultaneous production.

    Companies across Europe, North and South America, South East Asia, Australia, the Middle East and China are utilising OET technology, as well as in the UK. First commercial sales of these kits began in 2008 and customers are a mixture of commercial and academic laboratories. In addition, OET uses flashBACTM  to offer an in-house protein production service for clients who prefer to outsource early stage research and development including diagnostic kits and vaccines.

    As a result OET has established itself in the rapidly expanding market for "off the shelf" research services that enable companies to avoid setting up their own dedicated facilities or enable them to outsource when in-house facilities are limited.

    Investing in research

    From the beginning, OET's ethos has been to generate revenue and profit to maintain and grow its activities, including providing employment and investing in in-house research and development and funding collaborative PhD students.

    Investing in research and development through in-house and collaborative research and development with a range of UK and international, commercial and academic partners is key to ensuring OET remain at the forefront of new technologies. It also enables students to gain valuable research experience.

    OET has worked with many companies, as well as government laboratories such as the Health Protection Agency and The Pirbright Institute. Currently OET is working with the Pirbright Institute on a joint project to develop a new vaccine for a devastating illness affecting horses.

    As a spin-off of Oxford Brookes, OET has become a renowned centre of excellence, continuing to enable companies and institutions to significantly advance their drug discovery and vaccine development programmes, and ultimately helping to improve medical treatments across the world.

    Find out more

    Read more about the full Impact Case Study on RADAR.

    Further information on the University’s Department of Biological and Medical Sciences can be found on their website.

    More information about Oxford Expression Technologies (OET) is available on the website

    Professor Linda King is the interim Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at Oxford Brookes University, view her profile page.