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UK government invests £5m in COVID-19 mRNA vaccine library

Published on 05/03/21 at 09:59am
Image credit: Berit Watkin on Flickr

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has received a £5 million investment from the UK government, to support the development of an mRNA ​‘vaccine library’ as part of the vaccine support package announced in the Budget by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The vaccine library will form the basis of a rapid response facility enabling mRNA vaccines to be developed against new variants of COVID-19 as and when they emerge.

As COVID-19 is still a new virus, and vaccines have been developed with urgency over the past year, it is unclear how effective they may be at protecting against new variants. Research is ongoing into their effectiveness, and although experts believe the current jab will combat the recently identified Kent, Brazil, and South Africa strains, new variants will likely continue to emerge in the future that are resistant and require new vaccines.

When scientists identify new COVID-19 variants, they can use the DNA to develop mRNA vaccines in a matter of days. The vaccines will be banked in a ‘vaccine library’, ready for future manufacture and scale-up when needed.

The CPI, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, has been working with the UK Vaccine Taskforce since March 2020, applying its expertise in the development of mRNA vaccines to support the fight against coronavirus.

The CPI is currently the only company based in the UK capable of batch developing mRNA vaccines ready for use in clinical trials and manufacture.

Frank Millar, CEO of the CPI, said: “We’re delighted to be a key part of the UK’s ongoing fight against coronavirus, which has had such a devastating impact over the past year. It’s essential that we prepare for a future living with the threat of COVID-19 and the library of vaccine candidates we are building here in Darlington will help future-proof against further outbreaks caused by new strains of the disease.

“It will mean that as soon as a new strain of COVID-19 is identified, the relevant vaccine can be selected and rapidly manufactured for use in clinical trials, in a very similar way that we see flu vaccines developed each year.”

Darcy Jimenez

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