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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

  • Adjuvant effects reported in the literature for more than 20 years.
  • Increases antigen-specific antibody and T cell responses.
  • Reduces antigen requirements.
  • It helps to potentiate weaker antigens.
  • It improves the duration and onset of the immune response.
  • Used in prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines.
QS-21 adjuvants offer formulation flexibility

QS-21 adjuvants offer formulation flexibility

  • Potent with small amounts of antigen.
  • Combinable with other adjuvants and in various formulations.
  • It offers dose-saving effect of vaccine antigen.
  • Effective parenteral or mucosal administration.
  • Favorable safety profile.
QS-21 Pre-Clinical is available as a Desert King product:

QS-21 Pre-Clinical is available as a Desert King product:

  • A new QS-21 quality source.
  • Available directly and without license agreements.
  • Quantities of 5-500 mg are in stock and ready to ship.
  • Discounts offered to researchers and academics.
Extensive clinical experience with QS-21 from various sources *

Extensive clinical experience with QS-21 from various sources *

  • It has been tested on more than 40,000 humans.
  • Currently in human commercial vaccines, and several human vaccine candidates.
  • Combinable with other TLR agonists to form adjuvant systems.
  • It is also studied in HIV, tuberculosis, Alzheimer's disease, Chickenpox Zoster and other cancer-type vaccine programs.

Please click here for a link to Human Clinical Trials with GMP QS-21*.
*The QS-21 manufactured by Desert King Chile is currently offered as a non-GMP, preclinical material and has not been evaluated in clinical research.
* Desert King International offers QS-21 GMP manufactured by a contracted laboratory in the European Union.

Veterinary Adjuvant

VET-SAP®: A more consistent, fully traceable, cost-effective and easily available Quillay-based adjuvant precursor.

VET-SAP®: A more consistent, fully traceable, cost-effective and easily available Quillay-based adjuvant precursor.

  • VET-SAP® VET-SAP® is a veterinary vaccine adjuvant precursor of a fraction of semi-purified saponin from the bark of the Quillaja saponaria Mol tree tree.
  • FIt is the precursor of the purest saponin adjuvant available on the market.
  • We can deliver the most consistent saponin purity and profile in each batch.
  • Rest assured that VET-SAP® is traceable from the forest to the production line and following responsible forestry practices.  Responsible Forestry Practices.
  • Our integrated supply chain, from plantations to the final adjuvant precursor, eliminates the risk of future supply disruptions.


  • VET-SAP® VET-SAP® is supplied as a white to beige powder with a moisture content of less than 8%.
  • The useful life of VET-SAP® is 2 years at room temperature.
  • VET-SAP® is standardized on non-saponin impurities (polyphenols and 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

in English or Spanish

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