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Vaccine Development

Vaccine development is an exciting area of science research with real-world impact. Sorcerer Colony Counter is used for vaccine development assays at the forefront of this research.


applications_tiltThe serum bactericidal assay (SBA) and opsonophagocytic assay (OPA, also known as OPKA) are important tools used for the evaluation of novel vaccines. The end-point of these assays is enumeration of bacterial colonies cultured in appropriate culture media.

The SBA assay

The SBA is a globally accepted method for measuring the functional activity of serum antibodies against meningococcus.  The assay is used to determine whether a subject, or a population, is seropositive against invasive meningococcus.

The SBA assay is mediated by antibody and complement resulting in lysis of the bacterial cells. To date, the SBA has proved to be the best surrogate of protection for all serogroups and is referred to as the ‘gold standard’ for monitoring meningococcal vaccine efficiency.

The end point of the SBA assay is the counting of colony forming units.  The bacteria are placed in serial dilutions on blood-based agar plates.  The plates are then tilted at 45 degrees and the solution runs down the plate forming ‘lanes’.  The plates are incubated and after the colonies have grown, they can be counted using Sorcerer Colony Counter.

The OPA assay

The OPA is commonly used for evaluating pneumococcal vaccines (vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia and other complications) and for measuring antibody function.  The opsonophagocytic assay has become an important tool in assessing pneumococcal vaccine immunogenicity.

Similar to the SBA, the end point of the assay is the counting of colony forming units.  Sometimes whole plate counts can be used, but the ‘lane’ approach is also popular.  Often, many samples (or dilutions) can be grown together on one large plate. After incubation, these colonies can be counted by Sorcerer Colony Counter.

Why Sorcerer?

A global experience

We have provided Sorcerer Colony Counters to many laboratories conducting serum bactericidal assays (SBA) and opsonophagocytic assays (OPA also known as OPKA) around the world. We have worked alongside the scientists and researchers to configure and optimise Sorcerer so that it can provide fast, accurate and robust data.

  • Illuminate – We are able to accurately count SBA and OPA colonies by combining Sorcerer software with our purpose-built illumination stand.  This provides the ideal system for bacterial enumeration for vaccine development assays. We have worked with the vaccine development experts and tailored the illumination for optimum lighting of Neisseria and Streptococcus colonies, regardless of the growth medium colour.
  • Customise – Whether you use square or circular plates, and whether you want whole plate or just ‘lane’ counts, Sorcerer can be configured to count your samples. You can use any of the standard image analysis functions in Sorcerer, such as ‘separate touching colonies’ and filters such as ‘remove all dust or scratches’, to gain fast, accurate colony counts.
  • Save time – A single button press triggers the Sorcerer system to perform a count which is calculated instantly, displayed on-screen and sent directly to an Oracle database or Excel workbook.
  • Report data – Excel workbooks can be customised for your experimental routine; for example the number of plates, samples, replicates etc. can all be included. Customised tables allow you to quickly and concisely present and report your vaccine development data.
  • Comply – Sorcerer is designed to conform to Good Laboratory Practice and link to the System Access Manager to provide compliance with FDA 21 CFR Part 11 final rule on electronic records and signatures.

Sorcerer Colony Counter features for SBA and OPA vaccine development assays

  • Advanced colony detection, separation and enumeration
  • Rapid automatic count data
  • Optimal illumination
  • Configuration to your experimental requirements
  • Automatic data presentation in Excel
  • Data transfer to an Oracle database
  • Audit trial data
  • Defined user access levels
  • Electronic signatures
  • GLP compliance

Sorcerer Colony Counter

Find out more about Sorcerer Colony Counter.


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