Technology provides pork producers with new vaccine option

In hopes to help manage evolving diseases, Merck Animal Health has introduced the innovative RNA Particle Technology to create flexible, safe and precise vaccines for new and continuing disease challenges.

The Sequivity technology was introduced at a news conference at the 2018 World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 6.

The vaccine technology takes a genetic sequence from a targeted pathogen, isolated from an infected animal, to create a herd-specific vaccine in a matter of weeks.

“By producing herd-specific custom vaccines, the technology enables producers and veterinarians to tackle animal health issues quickly and safely,” said Joe Roder, DVM, technical services manager, Merck Animal Health. “Since diseases differ around the world, the technology allows us to diagnose specific disease risks and take a targeted approach to disease control, depending on the exact needs of the country or region.”

The process normally starts with a herd visit by a veterinarian and a sample collection from the infected herd. The sample is sent to a lab, where the gene of interest is identified and sent electronically to Merck, which maximizes safety and biosecurity. Once the gene sequence is received, it is synthesized and inserted into the RNA production platform. After incubation, RNA particles released from the production cells are harvested, purified and formulated into a final vaccine.

“The Sequivity RNA Particle Technology lets producers and veterinarians target multiple pathogens and farm-specific strains with a single injection,” said Brett O’Brien, technical services manager for Merck’s swine business.

A vaccine can be made in 8 to 12 weeks after a sample is collected, or perhaps faster in extreme situations.

“We hope producers will use this as a tool, which will lead to protect pigs against a need for antibiotics,” O’Brien said.

When injected in the animal, the RNA particles provide instructions to the immune cells to translate the sequence into proteins which act as antigens. When challenged with an actual live pathogen, the animal’s immune system recognizes the antigen and a targeted immune response is triggered.

O’Brien said this technology can be used as a customized vaccine tool to meet specific needs of individual herds. The vaccines are safe because no live organisms are needed to produce them. It provides fast response to a disease and can target diseases not controlled by conventional vaccines.

To learn more about SEQUIVITY, visit

Jennifer Carrico can be reached at 515-833-2120 or [email protected].