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mRNA Centre of Excellence in South Australia

The School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide will contribute to the development of cutting-edge technology aimed at creating tailored mRNA-based drugs and vaccines. This technology will be established and used in Adelaide, positioning the city as a leader in this field.

The University of Adelaide has partnered with a multi-product biologics contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) to advance ground-breaking technology in precision medicine manufacturing, as well as manufacturing processes. This partnership will enable the implementation of these technologies at the company’s Adelaide facility.

According to the Head of the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide, a comprehensive strategy is being employed to expand the manufacturing of mRNA-based drugs and vaccines that are specifically targeted. This will involve the creation of new technology for customised medicine.

He noted that a team of specialists in bioprocess engineering, advanced sensing, robotics, and automation will collaborate with the company to develop, innovate and disseminate new technologies that will transform the approach to delivering personalised medication.

To support the production of therapeutic drugs and vaccines, the company has been granted AU$ 10 million in funding, which is equally co-funded by the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council and the South Australian Government. This funding will enable the company to become an mRNA Center of Excellence within the next two years.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research) at the University of Adelaide expressed pride in the university’s continued partnership with the tech company. This collaboration demonstrates the potential benefits of universities and industries working together. The company that constructed the original facility now owned by the tech company, was established as a spin-out of the University of Adelaide in 1982. The company has achieved significant progress over the years, thanks to investment, exceptional research, and access to a highly skilled workforce.

The tech company’s CEO explained that the funding will have two main objectives. Firstly, it aims to improve the capacity of the tech firm’s mRNA manufacturing and analytical capabilities. Secondly, it intends to develop a microfluidics-based device capable of parallel manufacturing at the small scales required for personalised therapeutic vaccines.

These initiatives will enable the company to enhance its capacity to produce mRNA-based drugs and vaccines, including those for clinical trials, from DNA plasmids fermentation to formulated mRNA-Lipid Nanoparticle (LNP) complexes for administration.

As of 2021, the global mRNA therapeutics market was estimated to be worth US$ 39.90 billion and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.7% from 2022 to 2030. RNA-based therapeutics have gained significant attention in recent years due to their potential in treating chronic illnesses.

Additionally, RNA vaccines have numerous advantages over DNA vaccines in terms of safety, distribution, and production. mRNA vaccines and therapeutics have also exhibited encouraging outcomes in clinical trials, which has contributed to the growing demand for these products.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a positive impact on the growth of the global mRNA therapeutics market, mainly due to the increasing number of COVID-19 patients worldwide and significant external funding for the production of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines.

Moreover, the emergence of new strains of the SARS-COVID-19 virus in various parts of the world has led to a surge in demand for mRNA vaccines due to their high efficacy against these strains. Consequently, the use of mRNA-based products is expected to rise during the pandemic, leading to market expansion.

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