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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Queensland Government and Sanofi partner to establish global vaccine hub

Health Industry Hub | December 5, 2022 |

Sanofi, one of the world’s largest vaccine innovators, has partnered with the Queensland Government to inject AUD$280 million into next generation mRNA vaccine research in Queensland.

The Translational Science Hub announced on by Sanofi and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will link world-class researchers in Queensland with scientists at the Sanofi mRNA Centre of Excellence in France and the US. This will create a unique global vaccines R&D network focused on mRNA technology and translational science.

This first-of-its-kind partnership, which includes the University of Queensland and Griffith University, will place Queensland at the forefront of vaccine development and biomedical research in Australia. The Translational Science Hub will initially focus on the evaluation of a new generation of mRNA vaccines and the development of a world-first mRNA vaccine for chlamydia, a sexually transmissible infection (STI) of increasing public health concern because of its association with infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and pregnancy complications.

mRNA is expected to herald a new generation of vaccines that instruct certain cells to produce proteins that are recognised by the immune system to mount a defence.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queensland will be the only jurisdiction in Australia to have a centre like this.

“Queensland has some of the best researchers in the world and the Translational Science Hub will give them the platform to develop life-saving vaccines,” she said.

“If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s the importance of local capability rather than relying on global markets. We want the world to know that Queensland is where business can come to do science and science can come to do business.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said the new Hub would help drive the development of new vaccines and health care solutions across the world.

“The Translational Science Hub is a gamechanger that very few jurisdictions globally are capable of,” Mr Miles said.

“Queensland’s best scientists will work with their global peers in the US and France on ground-breaking mRNA technology and vaccine development. The Hub will bring more expertise, supply-chain capabilities, as well as clinical investigations to Queensland. We expect it will create up to 200 jobs for Queenslanders and strengthen our biomanufacturing supply chain. We’re proud one of the world’s largest healthcare companies has chosen Queensland to help reshape 21st century medicine.”

mRNA technology is expected to deliver a new generation of vaccines that instruct certain cells to produce proteins that are recognised by the immune system to mount a defence.

Minister for Science Meaghan Scanlon said Queensland is being recognised as a global research and innovation hub thanks to the government’s investment in state-of-the-art research facilities, talent attraction and partnerships between industry, academia and government.

“Queensland’s biomedical sector, including a highly skilled workforce and world-class research, has helped attract Sanofi to Brisbane,” Minister Scanlon said.

“This agreement will make Queensland science even more competitive by accelerating the commercialisation of local research by linking university partners with a global industry leader to test and develop new heath technologies.

“This announcement owes as much to years of great science and research done in Queensland by Queenslanders as it does to a sustained commitment from Government to grow the sector. And the effect of it will be amazing. Around 200 jobs will be created in Queensland within the research and clinical trials ecosystem, including scientists, researchers and healthcare professionals dedicated to improving mRNA technology for a range of diseases, including a first-ever vaccine for Chlamydia.

“The flow-on benefits for our biomedical sector, for researchers, and for young people thinking about how they can help save the world will be huge. It helps build more paths to prosperity for young Queenslanders looking to the future.

“These types of announcements are exactly why we want to turn Queensland know how into Queensland jobs, Queensland products and Queensland services. It’s why we’re investing $17 million in the state budget provide significant support to foster partnerships between universities and industry, and accelerate the commercial application of major research being conducted in the state.”

“The Translational Science Hub in Queensland will work closely with the Sanofi mRNA Centre of Excellence in France and the US to accelerate a new era of vaccine innovation,” Global Head of Vaccine Research and Development, Sanofi, Dr. Jean-Francois Toussaint, said. 

Sanofi Country Lead ANZ, Karen Hood, said that Sanofi was thrilled to be basing the Translational Science Hub in Queensland.

“We acknowledge the incredible support and agility the Queensland Government has shown in seizing this exciting and unique opportunity. We are looking forward to our scientists in France and the United States working collaboratively with all partners to chase the miracles of science to improve people’s lives,” Ms Hood said.

Elizabeth de Somer, CEO of Medicines Australia, said the new Hub, once functional, will bring long-term health and economic benefits to Australia.

“Bringing together the brightest minds from science, health and medicine to create centres of excellence for innovative technologies, here in Australia, will further boost Australia’s contribution to benefit patients and the broader economy. Australia has extraordinary talents and potential when it comes to our research and development capabilities. Manufacturing biotherapeutics domestically critically widens our workforce and talent pipelines to the vital areas of medicine and health.

“This announcement demonstrates not only the importance of investing in our domestic capabilities but the importance of investing in medicines and science.”

Sanofi Country Medical Lead ANZ, Dr Iris Depaz, said Queensland was home to world-leading immunologists and vaccine researchers.

“Queensland has some of the best universities for science research and the Queensland Government has a clear vision for investing in the State as a location for knowledge-based high-tech industries. This is why the Translational Science Hub will be located across the Sunshine State,” Dr. Depaz said. 

Vice Chancellor and President, Griffith University, Professor Carolyn Evans, said Griffith is delighted to be part of the partnership building on the strengths and capabilities of the University’s existing biomedical leadership.

“Our researchers are internationally recognised at bringing disease-specific mRNA expertise to developing new vaccines and therapies while our Clinical Trial Unit is a leader in testing safety and efficacy. We look forward to the work we undertake here in Queensland making a difference to global health outcomes,” Professor Evans said.

Vice-Chancellor, University of Queensland, Professor Deborah Terry, said the partnership builds on a commitment to bring the latest technologies to UQ’s internationally recognised vaccine and drug development programs.

“The pivot to mRNA technologies was accelerated during the pandemic and UQ has invested in both the people and facilities to ensure mRNA for pre-clinical research can be developed and produced in Queensland,” Professor Terry said.

“Collaboration and partnership are at the heart of all great research and we look forward to making a difference to global health in collaboration with our partners.”

Currently Sanofi undertakes its world-leading work in Lyon, France and Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States.

The Translational Science Hub will be located across Queensland, utilising the laboratories and infrastructure of the University of Queensland, Griffith University and the Translational Research Institute (TRI). The research is expected to start in Q1 2023 with an initial focus on a Chlamydia vaccine.

Chlamydia is the most common STI in the world with around 129 million infections a year. While Chlamydia can be treated, there is currently no vaccine to prevent infection. If left untreated it can lead to infertility and in pregnant women can result in foetal eye and lung infections.


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