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Stabilization of HAC1 Influenza Vaccine by Spray Drying: Formulation Development and Process Scale-Up



Stable vaccines with long shelf lives and reduced dependency on the cold chain are ideal for stockpiling and rapid deployment during public emergencies, including pandemics. Spray drying is a low-cost process that has potential to produce vaccines stable at a wide range of temperatures. Our aim was to develop a stable formulation of a recombinant H1N1 influenza hemagglutinin vaccine candidate and take it to pilot-scale spray-drying production.


Eight formulations containing different excipients were produced and assayed for antigen stability, powder characteristics, and immunogenicity after storage at a range of temperatures, resulting in the identification of four promising candidates. A pilot-scale spray-drying process was then developed for further testing of one formulation.


The pilot-scale process was used to reproducibly manufacture three batches of the selected formulation with yields >90%. All batches had stable physical properties and in vitro potency for 6 months at temperatures from −20°C to +50°C. Formulations stored for 3 months elicited immunogenic responses in mice equivalent to a frozen lot of bulk vaccine used as a stability control.


This study demonstrates the feasibility of stabilizing subunit vaccines using a spray-drying process and the suitability of the process for manufacturing a candidate product.

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Fig. 1
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Differential scanning calorimetry


Hemagglutination inhibition


Karl Fischer moisture content analysis


Modulated differential scanning calorimetry


Phosphate-buffered saline


Powder X-ray diffraction


Scanning electron microscopy


Single radial immunodiffusion

Tg :

Glass transition temperature

Tm :

Melting temperature


Zero-background holder


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This work was supported with funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The authors wish to thank Patricia Logan, Amy Wales, and Marjorie Murray for their assistance in the development of this article, Megan Coffin and Dione Gray for their technical assistance with the immunogenicity studies, and Dr. John Sumida for the sample testing.

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Correspondence to Manjari Lal.

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Zhu, C., Shoji, Y., McCray, S. et al. Stabilization of HAC1 Influenza Vaccine by Spray Drying: Formulation Development and Process Scale-Up. Pharm Res 31, 3006–3018 (2014).

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  • pilot scale-up
  • spray drying
  • thermostable
  • vaccines