Publication: mRNA vaccine quality analysis using RNA sequencing

26 Sep 2023

Full title

mRNA vaccine quality analysis using RNA sequencing

Helen M. Gunter, Senel Idrisoglu, Swati Singh, Dae Jong Han, Emily Ariens, Jonathan R. Peters, Ted Wong, Seth W. Cheetham, Jun Xu, Subash Kumar Rai, Robert Feldman, Andy Herbert, Esteban Marcellin, Romain Tropee, Trent Munro, Tim R. Mercer


The success of mRNA vaccines has been realised, in part, by advances in manufacturing that enabled billions of doses to be produced at sufficient quality and safety. However, mRNA vaccines must be rigorously analysed to measure their integrity and detect contaminants that reduce their effectiveness and induce side-effects. Currently, mRNA vaccines and therapies are analysed using a range of time-consuming and costly methods. Here we describe a streamlined method to analyse mRNA vaccines and therapies using long-read nanopore sequencing. Compared to other industry-standard techniques, VAX-seq can comprehensively measure key mRNA vaccine quality attributes, including sequence, length, integrity, and purity. We also show how direct RNA sequencing can analyse mRNA chemistry, including the detection of nucleoside modifications. To support this approach, we provide supporting software to automatically report on mRNA and plasmid template quality and integrity. Given these advantages, we anticipate that RNA sequencing methods, such as VAX-seq, will become central to the development and manufacture of mRNA drugs.