A new £26.4 million RNA Centre of Excellence to develop cutting-edge vaccines and therapeutics, has opened in Darlington, UK. Launch of the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)’s new centre was originally announced in August 2021. The facility received a multi-million pound funding boost in October 2022.
Benefits of the new RNA Centre of Excellence
Importantly, CPI’s new facility is the first in the UK available to support “complete clinical manufacturing chain for RNA including lipid nanoparticle (LNP) production” Head of the RNA Centre of Excellence, Julie Anderson explained to EPR.
In the conversation, Anderson highlighted that the new facility provides several significant offerings to UK therapeutics manufacturing, including the development of “RNA and associated process for encapsulation into LNPs. This means that processes can be efficiently developed and then rapidly translated to GMP production for testing in the clinic.”
With the centre having the capacity to deliver 100 million vaccine doses, it “provides the UK with a facility configured and available to support any future UK health emergency” Anderson shared with EPR.
Services available at the RNA Centre of Excellence combine product and process development with scale up and clinical production in both mRNA manufacture and lipid encapsulation at a single site, according to CPI. Vitally, this will help strengthen UK leadership in the development and commercialisation of innovative RNA products and processes and attract inward investment and promote resilience and sustainable growth in the UK healthcare ecosystem.
Advancing the future of UK vaccine manufacturing
Anderson also told EPR that the new UK RNA facility will inform future development of RNA-LNP products, by providing “further knowledge and information about the behaviour of these products in manufacture and any issues where additional development will simplify scale up, reduce costs”.
Specifically, with RNA being “a new and rapidly evolving therapeutic technology with developments ongoing, including incorporation of modified nucleotides, self-amplifying RNA, circular RNA, formulation with improved storage, tissue targeting, the facility has the flexibility to incorporate these new approaches,” she added.
Frank Millar, CEO at CPI acknowledged that LNP-encapsulated messenger and self-amplifying RNA vaccines “have huge potential”.
“We have learnt the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, remembering the crucial role rapid vaccine development, delivered at scale, had in saving lives,” commented Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, George Freeman.
Opening of the RNA Centre of Excellence is a “landmark day in scaling up the UKs ability to develop new vaccines and therapeutics” Millar added.
Additionally, CPI stated that the organisation is working with a variety of collaborators to advance a variety of RNA projects, including a first-of-its-kind saRNA flu vaccine.