Vaccine formulation and immunomodulation

The NRC’s Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre is home to significant expertise and research capacity in the areas of vaccine formulation and immunomodulation. Immunotherapy—which refers to the activation or suppression of the immune system using immunomodulators to treat disease—is rapidly gaining steam. It is now possible to treat cancer by injecting a tumour antigen and immunomodulator into a patient; the modulator attracts the attention of the immune system, while the antigen serves as an example of what to attack.

Another strategy is the development of immune check-point inhibitors which are designed to counteract cancer's ability to evade detection, enabling the immune system to recognize and fight the disease. Conversely, immunotherapy can also be applied to suppress the undesirable immune reactions that underlie chronic immune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and allergic disorders.

In prophylactic vaccine applications, determining the right combination of antigens, adjuvants or delivery vectors in the vaccine cargo is crucial to stimulating robust and sustainable immunity against infections caused by invasive viral and bacterial pathogens, as well as against cancer and chronic diseases.

R&D expertise

The NRC has been developing vaccines for over 35 years and has recently expanded its activities in immunotherapy. We work with Canadian and international partners to design and test new vaccines and immunotherapeutics.


  • Antigen identification, selection, production and characterization for vaccine design:
    • Virus-like particle (VLPs), carbohydrate, peptide, protein and lipid antigens
    • Indications such as cancer, bacterial pneumonia, C. difficile, influenza
  • Protein carriers for carbohydrate antigens to enhance immunogenicity

Adjuvants and Immunomodulators

  • Archaeal lipid-based adjuvants to increase systemic or mucosal immunity
  • Immunomodulator for asthma treatment
  • Immunopotency testing and mechanism of action
  • Immunogenicity screening


  • Salmonella vectors to induce robust cell-mediated immunity against infection and cancer
  • Adenoviral vectors, recombinant adeno-associated virus, and lentiviral vectors for antigen delivery and cancer therapy
  • Cell lines and enabling technologies for production of VLPs and viruses

Our biomanufacturing expertise enables small- and medium-sized vaccine developers to produce their vaccine candidates and VLPs at bench scale, then optimize and scale up production processes at our Microbial Fermentation Pilot Plant or Cell Culture Pilot Plant.

Efficacy and safety of vaccine and immunotherapeutic candidates can be validated through our Functional Characterization and Analytics expertise, and Preclinical in vivo facility.

Contact us

Wangxue Chen
Team Leader, Mucosal Immunology
Telephone: 613-991-0924

Rénald Gilbert
Team Leader, Viral Vector Production
Telephone: 514-496-5308

Mike McCluskie
Team Leader, Immunomodulation
Telephone: 613-993-9774

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