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Pharmaceutical Applications

Quillaja saponins are utilized as veterinary vaccine adjuvants, as human pre-clinical and clinical adjuvants, and as hemolytic agents for blood diagnostic kits.


For the past 35 years, San Diego, CA based Desert King International (DKI) has been the world’s largest producer of food grade saponin extracts. For over a decade, DKI has produced and supplied the majority of pure saponin extracts, rich in QS-21, used by the pharmaceutical industry. As DKI’s knowledge of industry requirements and issues increased, the company dedicated an increasing amount of resources to ensure it met the high standards required by its pharmaceutical customers.
Desert King employs over 200 people in Mexico, Chile and the US. With its Quillaja saponaria forestry operations and production facility in Chile, the company has established a robust, integrated supply chain that ensures the production of the highest purity extracts.

The control systems and in depth knowledge DKI provides, results in the most consistent Quillaja based saponin extracts available globally. Our years of experience and customer focused orientation, combine to make us the supplier of choice for purified QS-21.

Vaccine Adjuvants

Adjuvants are substances that are added to vaccines to help potentiate an immunological response. Additionally adjuvants allow for smaller amounts of the inactivated virus or bacterial components to be utilized in the production of the vaccine.
Purified saponins from Quillaja saponaria have been utilized as vaccine adjuvants for decades. Common usages for Quillaja based adjuvants include pre-clinical and veterinary vaccine applications and human clinical trials (QS-21).
Purified Quillaja saponins also possess the ability to form immune stimulating complexes (ISCOM’s) that function as vaccine adjuvants. These spherical cage-like structures are spontaneously formed when purified Quillaja saponins are mixed with cholesterol and phospholipids.

Desert King´s Quillaja Adjuvant Advantages

The majority of adjuvants on the market today, including alum, mainly activate the humoral immune response. Quillaja saponins on the other hand, are well known to induce strong activation of both the cell-mediated (Th1) and the humoral arms (Th2) of the immune system. Moreover, Quillaja based adjuvants stimulate cytotoxic T-Cell production against exogenous antigens thus providing an enhanced immune response.
Quillaja based adjuvants are currently found in dozens of commercially available Veterinary vaccines from the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world, and are currently being studied in over 15 human vaccine candidates ranging from oncology to infectious diseases.

Vaccine Adjuvant

Boost Your Vaccine's Immune Response with QS-21

Boost Your Vaccine's Immune Response with QS-21

  • QS-21 promotes high antigen-specific antibody responses and CD8+ T-Cell responses.
  • QS-21 favors a balanced production of both IgG1 and IgG2a antibodies.
  • Stimulates the production of cytotoxic T-lymphocites.
  • Induces Th1 cytokines, IL-2, and IFN-Gamma.
  • QS-21 outperforms other adjuvants in increasing antibody and T-Cell responses against target antigens.
  • Lowers antigen requirements, offering a dose sparing effect.
  • Helps potentiate weaker antigens.
  • Enhances duration and onset of immune response.
  • Used in prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines.
QS-21 Adjuvants Offer Formulation Flexibility

QS-21 Adjuvants Offer Formulation Flexibility

  • Potent with small quantities of antigen.
  • Combinable with other adjuvants and in various formulations.
  • Offers vaccine antigen dose sparing effect.
  • Efficacious via parenteral or mucosal administration.
  • Favorable safety profile.
Pre-clinical QS-21 is Available Now from Desert King

Pre-clinical QS-21 is Available Now from Desert King

  • Multi-gram quantities of QS-21 available.
  • Available directly and without licensing agreements.
  • 5-500 mg quantities in are in stock and ready to ship.
  • Discounts offered to academic researchers.
  • Desert King Pre-Clinical QS-21 has been tested by hundreds of worldwide academic, biotech and large pharmaceutical companies.
Extensive Clinical Experience with GMP QS-21 from Various Sources*

Extensive Clinical Experience with GMP QS-21 from Various Sources*

  • Has ben tested in over 40,000 humans
  • Currently in over 17 human vaccine candidates.
  • Studied in 4 Phase 3 clinical trials for Malaria, Melanoma, NSCLC and Shingles.
  • Combinable with other TLR Agonists to form Adjuvant Systems
  • Also studied in HIV, TB, Alzheimer's Disease, Varicella Zoster, and various other oncology tumor type vaccine programs


Please click here for a link to Human Clinical Trials with GMP QS-21*.
*Desert King's QS-21 is currently offered as both GMP and pre-clinical, the former has been studied in limited clinical research.

Veterinary Adjuvant

VET-SAP®: A More Consistent, Fully Traceable, Cost Effective and Readly Available Quillaja Saponin Adjuvant.

VET-SAP®: A More Consistent, Fully Traceable, Cost Effective and Readly Available Quillaja Saponin Adjuvant.

  • VET-SAP® is a Veterinary Vaccine Adjuvant from a semi-purified Saponin Fraction of the Bark of the Quillaja Saponaria tree.
  • Formulate with the purest Saponin Adjuvant available in the market (90-95% saponin purity).
  • Expect the most consistent Saponin purity and profile in every batch.
  • Rest assured that VET-SAP® is traceable from the forest, all the way through the production line, and by following Responsible Forestry Practices.
  • Our Integrated Supply Chain, from Plantations to the Final Adjuvant, Eliminates the Risk of Future Supply Disruptions.


  • VET-SAP® is supplied as a white to beige powder with less than 8% moisture content.
  • The shelf-life of VET-SAP® is 2 years at room temperature.
  • VET-SAP® is standardized in non-saponin impurities (polyphenols & polysaccharides) to maximize batch to batch consistency.

Hemolytic agent for diagnostic analyses

Quillaja Saponins in Diagnostic formulations:

• Used for diagnostics buffers for hemolytic analyses.
• High content of QS18; stronger hemolytic process.
• Stable highly purified products.
• Effective in low concentrations.
• 100% water-soluble.

Other Products

Quillaja Saponin Fractions Available for Pre-Clinical Research or ISCOM Preparation:

  • QS-7 Fraction
  • QS-17 Fraction
  • QS-18 Fraction
  • Fraction A
  • Fraction B
  • Fraction C
  • Quillaic Acid


Damian Hiley

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Geneviève Vidal

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