Moderna to Build UK’s First mRNA Vaccine Research and Manufacturing Facility | Pharmaceutical industry


Boston-based biotech Moderna is to build the UK’s first research and manufacturing facility dedicated to the development of mRNA vaccines against new variants of Covid and other respiratory diseases, with the aim of improving preparedness to future pandemics.

Under a £1billion deal with the UK government, construction of the new center – Moderna’s first facility in Britain – could start later this year and is expected to start producing the first vaccines in 2025. The government is committed to buying Moderna’s vaccines for the next decade. .

Jabs are based on messenger RNA, the molecule that teaches our cells to make specific proteins that will trigger an immune response inside our body. Moderna has developed one of the two mRNA vaccines in the world against Covid-19, alongside that produced by the German BioNTech and the American Pfizer.

Moderna chief executive Stéphane Bancel said the priority was to develop a vaccine combining boosters against Covid, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but can be severe for infants and the elderly.

mRNA technology has proven to be one of the fastest routes to producing an effective vaccine against Covid, and scientists are exploring its use against other diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, flu and malaria.

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Boris Johnson said the investment would ‘secure a stab at some of the toughest viruses, putting us at the forefront of tackling future threats’. He added: “We’ve all seen what vaccines can do, and today’s partnership brings us one step closer to finding cures for some of the most devastating diseases.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: “Our new partnership with Moderna will cement the UK’s status as a science superpower, significantly boosting the economy and creating jobs. and it has the potential to unlock the next generation of cutting-edge vaccines to fight diseases such as Covid, seasonal flu and RSV.

Moderna said it planned to expand its presence in the UK through R&D investment and promised to deliver a large part of its clinical trials in the UK.

Separately, Moderna said it plans to seek approval from US and UK regulators within days for its new two-strain Covid-19 vaccine. The company released data to show that the vaccine, called mRNA1273.214, protects against Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 strains, which are driving the current surge in cases. The new vaccine combines 25 micrograms of the original Moderna Covid vaccine with 25 micrograms of vaccine specifically targeted at the Omicron variant.

Dr. Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said the company was ready to deliver the vaccine for booster programs as early as August. Relying on vaccines based on the original strain of Covid for fall booster programs will result in “shorter duration of protection, less robust protection and more severe illness and hospitalization,” Burton said.

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