Self-sufficiency in mRNA vaccine is the aim for BioCina
16 Sep 2021
BioCina, a South Australian biotech company, is working towards developing a national end-to-end mRNA-vaccine manufacturing hub at a facility formerly operated by Pfizer.
Photo: BioCina is a South Australian biotech company.
It is hoped the facility and its supporting industry consortium will soon be able to look after every step in the vaccine production cycle, from manufacture to storing vaccines in appropriate vials.
“The site has a deep history in and experience around microbial process development and manufacturing, having emanated from the University of Adelaide,” BioCina CEO Ian Wisenberg says. “We will be converting it into a contract development manufacturing organisation, leveraging our expertise to support local, regional and international drug development.”
The facility has been certified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the US Food and Drug Administration, as well as the European Medicines Evaluation Agency and Canadian Health.
A biomanufacturing operation producing drug materials for humans must maintain extremely rigorous accreditation levels, which will look in detail at the organisation, its capabilities, facilities, workforce, processes and so on. These take years to develop, implement and refine appropriately, with no guarantees.
“We are the only facility in Australia with those designations. There’s a dearth of capacity to manufacture vaccines around the world, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. From here, our plans are to price our business model and explore our potential from a regional and international standpoint,” Wisenberg says.
BioCina’s vision is of national significance. It means Australia could produce mRNA vaccines without relying on the international supply chain.
Mark Wheeler, Director of Health and Medical Industries at the South Australian Department for Trade and Investment, notes Adelaide has great depth of experience in health, medical and life sciences.
“South Australia’s highly centralised and connected health networks and infrastructure, including flagship precincts like Adelaide BioMed City, Flinders Village, Mawson Lakes Tech Park and the Lot Fourteen High Tech precinct, bring together a unique cluster of world-class digital, clinical and medical capabilities,” says Wheeler.
“The state is particularly well-suited to mRNA vaccine production due to its infrastructure, long-standing capabilities and experienced biomanufacturing workforce. BioCina’s site has a proven track record for manufacturing more than 50 different biopharmaceuticals. Those skills, experience and processes can’t be duplicated or accelerated. It’s an incredibly exciting initiative.”
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