RiboPro off to a flying start with mRNA production


Scientists and biotech companies are lining up for messenger RNA (mRNA) products made by Dutch start-up RiboPro. The company is therefore growing. Global demand for mRNA exceeds supply: the number of producers can be counted on about two hands.

At present, we know that messenger RNA is the active ingredient in the corona vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. It is a copy of a piece of DNA and serves as a messenger to instruct the human cell to make a certain protein. After that, the body quickly breaks down mRNA.


Messenger RNA shows great promise and new drugs based on this technique have been researched for years. Meanwhile, mRNA is used in the most effective vaccines in the fight against the coronavirus. “We felt that we had to convince the world of the benefits of mRNA products,” says biochemist Sander van Asbeck, CEO and founder of RiboPro. “Then came the corona and the vaccines. Demand has since skyrocketed; everyone seems to believe it now.

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Proprietary resource

The Oss-based RiboPro, located at the Pivot Park pharmaceutical campus, produces its own mRNA. Van Asbeck has been researching mRNA-based drugs for years with his company Mercurna, a spin-off from Radboud University in Nijmegen in the Netherlands. “There, we were researching the development of a new drug for chronic kidney disease. To do this, we used mRNA that we produced in-house. However, the company was increasingly in demand to manufacture mRNA for others who were also engaged in drug research and development. Van Asbeck: “This is why we decided to create a new company in addition to Mercurna which would focus entirely on the production and further development of our own mRNA.

Treat tumors

In early 2020, RiboPro was created to produce mRNA for third parties. For example, several researchers are working on mRNA-based drugs capable of fighting tumors or fighting inflammation of the eyes or skin. MRNA puts the body’s own immune system to work, so to speak. Additional proteins are produced to stimulate bodily processes to attack or repair a virus or tumor.

“MRNA puts the body’s own immune system to work, so to speak,” Sander van Asbeck, CEO of RiboPro

The important thing is that the body does not attack the mRNA because it is foreign to the body. “But if it’s produced cleanly and correctly, the body will accept the mRNA and you won’t have any unwanted side effects,” says Van Asbeck. The mRNA molecules are produced in Oss and then frozen in a drop of water. You can’t see it, but once it’s in the body it certainly does its job.

Processing with a message

The main advantage of mRNA, according to Van Asbeck, is that it does not involve genetically modified or chemical substances. Many drugs are actually poisons. It’s different with mRNA, you treat the body with a message, you transmit information after which the body itself begins to produce proteins and thus begins to heal itself.

As a biochemist, Van Asbeck has been working with mRNA for many years now. But now all of a sudden everyone has an opinion about it. “I know better than anyone how mRNA works. And I am completely convinced that if it is produced correctly and cleanly, mRNA is perfectly safe. After a few days or weeks it is eliminated from your body, which is exactly how it is programmed.

Revolution in medicine

Incidentally, RiboPro does not sell mRNA products to major vaccine manufacturers. RiboPro mRNA is currently approved for research purposes only. Over time, the company wants to start producing it for use in medicines and vaccines, which is why it recently teamed up with facility manager GMP Medace from Maastricht.

RiboPro recently secured € 1.2 million to further develop mRNA technology, strengthen the business and grow. Van Asbeck: “In this way, we can really play an important role in the mRNA drug revolution. “

Also interesting: mRNA technology may revolutionize the fight against cancer and other diseases

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