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NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science
Project grant

Cell based assay for tetanus vaccine and antitoxin production

a photo showing a glass slide being held by a scientist, near to a microscope

At a glance

Pending start
Award date
August 2023 - July 2025
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Professor Andrew Peden


University of Sheffield


  • Replacement



This award aims to characterise a cell-based in vitro assay to measure the toxicity of tetanus-based products replacing the use of animals in vaccine quality control. 

Tetanus is a serious and life-threatening condition caused by bacteria and is routinely prevented through vaccination. Vaccinations use a non-harmful tetanus derivative, which must be tested for potency ahead of use in medical applications. Each batch undergoes a series of potency, quality and safety testing prior to use in the clinic, predominantly tested using the mouse LD50 lethality biological assay. This assay determines the dose required to kill half of the mice exposed to the toxin via an intraperitoneal injection. With previous NC3Rs funding, Dr Andrew Peden and colleagues have created cell-based assays to test Botulinum-based therapeutics. Andrew has now adapted the method to detect Tetanus toxins and will optimise the assay in collaboration with MHRA for use in quality control studies.