Researchers in the UK are using new ways to rapidly develop and mass manufacture mRNA vaccines and therapeutics at low cost against COVID-19 and a range of other diseases.
The research project will boost the UK’s and the world’s ability to rapidly develop new vaccines in response to new variants of COVID-19 and also future pandemics.
In non-emergency times, the new production technology will give developers and manufacturers access to the state-of-the-art processes needed to produce new vaccines and treatments for other major diseases such as cancer, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular conditions and auto-immune diseases much faster, the University of Sheffield said in a statement yesterday.
“The vaccines produced for COVID-19 have shown us what is possible using RNA technology. In one of the greatest scientific accomplishments of our generation, RNA technology has demonstrated the ability to change the timeline for developing and delivering a vaccine from years to months,” said the lead researcher Zoltan Kis from the university’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.
“This is a versatile and transformative technology that can be used to develop and mass-produce vaccines and treatments for other diseases. To achieve this, we need to ensure that researchers across the globe have access to the very latest, state-of-the-art RNA manufacturing processes to support their research, development and large-scale production programmes,” Kis said.
The new vaccine production unit at the varsity will form a central part of Wellcome Leap’s R3 programme, which is aiming to establish a network of vaccine manufacturing facilities across the world to increase the number of RNA-based treatments that are designed, developed and produced each year.
The network will also be capable of rapidly producing new vaccines as and when needed in response to future pandemics.
“COVID-19 has shown us how important it is to be prepared so we can respond to pandemics quickly. By improving the way, we can make vaccines and by distributing these production processes across the globe, we will be able to respond to future pandemics much faster and a lot more effectively,” Kis said.
“In non-pandemic times, these production processes implemented across the globe can be used to produce vaccine and therapeutic candidates that we desperately need against a wide range of diseases,” the lead researcher added.