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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Victorian scientists develop Australia’s first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine

Health Industry Hub | December 1, 2021 |
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Pharma News: The Victorian Government announced that scientists and manufacturers in Melbourne have developed Australia’s first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate with clinical trials to begin in the new year.

Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford announced 450 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate have been produced in Boronia, enabling 150 people to take part in Phase 1 clinical trials run by the Doherty Institute, with results expected later in 2022.

Associate Professor Archa Fox, University of Western Australia and president of the RNA Network of Australasia, said “mRNA vaccines have been proven to be both quick to design and highly effective at preventing severe Covid 19 disease. Because of the high cost of buying in vaccine from overseas, and the potential to be at the back of the queue for future pandemics, we urgently need to build expertise, capacity and capability in Australia to make mRNA vaccines and RNA therapeutics more broadly.

“This announcement by MIPS/Doherty/IDT is a significant step forwards towards creating our first home-grown Australian mRNA vaccine. My understanding is that the sequence was designed and tested at the preclinical stage in Australia. Next, the mRNA was manufactured overseas. Finally, the mRNA was sent to IDT Australia to be put into lipid nanoparticles and dispensed into vials, ready for the phase 1 clinical trials. I wish the team the best of luck for smooth progress and good results through the clinical trials.”

Professor Thomas Preiss, Leader of the RNA Biology Group in the College of Health & Medicine at the Australian National University, added “This announcement represents a real watershed moment for our country as governments, industry and academia are working towards making an Australian RNA therapeutics industry of international reach a reality. We might well see from this, a new mRNA COVID-19 vaccine come to market. This alone would be an important development as we are faced with an ongoing demand for vaccines to fight the pandemic.

“Equally importantly, RNA has plenty of potential as a therapeutic beyond vaccines. The breakthrough in Melbourne then shows us that, as a country, we have the wherewithal to build an RNA R&D ecosystem that can efficiently develop these new drugs. The hope now is that we will furthermore put them into local production and service a growing global market.”

Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford commented “This is an Australian first that confirms Victoria as a leader in mRNA therapeutics and manufacturing – it is an incredible achievement to have made an mRNA vaccine candidate that is ready for clinical trials. We’re serious about developing our mRNA manufacturing capacity and doing it quickly as we can, because it will save lives.”

Doherty Institute Head of Vaccine and Immunisation Research Group Professor Terry Nolan added “This is a major milestone in Australia’s ability to manufacture home-grown COVID-19 mRNA vaccines and we are excited to commence Phase 1 clinical trials of this candidate, along with the protein vaccine candidate developed by the Doherty Institute, in the coming months.”


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