mRNA Victoria, the agency of the Australian State of Victoria Government charged with building the State’s mRNA manufacturing and research capability announced that a locally-developed COVID vaccine candidate will enter Phase 1 clinical trials in October, 2021. Preliminary trial results for the vaccine candidate are expected in the first half of 2022.
Victoria is the home of Australia’s biotech community with a globally-recognised research sector including the country’s leading mRNA researchers and existing capabilities in medtech, biotech, pharmaceutical and advanced manufacturing. “Victoria has a world-class biotech and medical research community and is Australia’s home for mRNA,” stated Victoria’s Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford.
mRNA Victoria will fund the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) to manufacture doses of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for trials, establishing Australia’s first manufacturing capability of mRNA vaccines. While mRNA Victoria is charged with building Victoria’s mRNA manufacturing capability to fast-track Australia’s future supply of coronavirus vaccines, there are wider-ranging implications to its mission. In addition to providing vaccine security, supporting local manufacturing, and creating a more robust defense against future pandemics, Victoria’s expanding mRNA capabilities have the capacity for broad-based therapeutic application.
Australia’s first locally-developed mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate is a collaboration between MIPS and the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), reflecting the strong mRNA research sector in Victoria and leading the national charge to develop mRNA manufacturing capability.
The Victorian candidate is part of a combined research program that is developing two related second- generation COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine candidate’s focus on the tip of SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein, known as the receptor-binding domain (RBD), which mediates the virus’s ability to attach and enter the cell.
Monash University Professor of Pharmaceutical Biology Colin Pouton heads up the MIPS arm of the team. Pouton stated: “The investment by the Victorian Government into establishing Victoria’s mRNA manufacturing capability presents exciting opportunities to develop life-saving vaccines and therapeutic treatments for all Australians.”
Michael Kapel, CEO of mRNA Victoria and former Commissioner to the Americas for the Government of Victoria, stated: “The world-class research team at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences have had a breakthrough with their next-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate. These and other institutions in Victoria’s biotech community, working together with mRNA Victoria, will establish Victoria as a global leader in research and production of mRNA-based therapeutics.”
mRNA Victoria is responsible for the Victorian Government’s commitment to establish a world-class Victorian mRNA and RNA industry by supporting supply chain and R&D for pre and clinical research, commercialisation and manufacturing investments. It identifies key capabilities, gaps and opportunities and leads the engagement and partnership with domestic and international companies, researchers and stakeholders on behalf of the Victorian Government to build RNA capability and supply chain through a suite of investments and programs.
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