UK's first-ever Vaccines Manufacturing centre aims to tackle deadly diseases
The UK’s first-ever dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre will ensure the UK life sciences industry remains at the forefront of worldwide efforts to tackle life-threatening diseases, including Ebola and Lassa fever.
The centre will be built in at Oxford Science Park, and is expected to create up to 50 jobs in the local area when it opens in 2022.
The first products from the centre are expected to be available for use later that year.
The availability of safe, effective and economical vaccines is an important pillar of world health. Alongside more familiar diseases, populations globally are threatened by new outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola and Lassa fever.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, an outbreak of Ebola beginning last August has resulted in 357 confirmed cases and 186 deaths, while this year a Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria has resulted in 553 confirmed cases and 143 deaths. There are presently no licensed vaccines available for these diseases.
Led by the Jenner Institute, a partnership between the University of Oxford and the Pirbright Institute, the new centre has been awarded funding by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) of £66 million through the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Medicines Manufacturing challenge.
UKRI Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said:
“Improving the development, production and application of new vaccines against infectious diseases requires expertise and collaboration across academia and industry.
“The Vaccines Manufacturing Centre will play an important role in bringing expertise from industry and academia together to ensure we are prepared to respond to the threats of serious infections, including viruses with the potential to cause major national or global epidemics.”
Jenner Institute Director, Professor Adrian Hill, said:
“This is an exceptional opportunity for the UK to lead in the provision of vaccines against a wide range of outbreak pathogens which threaten to cause major epidemics. The lack of commercial incentive to develop these has now led to this exceptional partnership of major academic and industrial players in the vaccine field, to accelerate a range of vaccines towards large-scale manufacture and stockpile provision for vulnerable populations.”
In parallel, the centre will develop innovative manufacturing technologies with UK companies and universities to support the next generation of life-saving preventive and therapeutic vaccines.
The investment marks a significant step in delivering on a major commitment in the Life Sciences Sector Deal, a partnership between government and industry ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of developing innovative new treatments and medical technologies to improve patients’ lives.
Additional funding of £10 million will come from commercial and other partners, including Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. and Merck Sharp and Dohme. The centre will be further supported by expertise and training from GE Healthcare.
The core research teams will be drawn from academia and industry and will include significant new contributions from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Imperial College London as well as the University of Oxford. The programme will also benefit from access to technologies and intellectual property created by the partners.
Read more on the Gov.uk website
The Medicines Manufacturing challenge is part of the Leading-edge healthcare challenge.