Researchers from University of Sheffield, UK, are in the process of developing quicker, cheaper ways to mass produce messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines and therapeutics of top quality in a bid to cater to the ever-increasing need for inoculation during the pandemic.
The research project will help rapidly develop new vaccines that would safeguard against COVID-19 and its new variants, a range of other diseases as well as future pandemics.
An official statement released by the university on December 19 said that, in non-emergency times, the new production technology will give manufacturers access to the state-of-the-art processes needed to produce new vaccines and treatments for other major diseases such as cancer, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular conditions and autoimmune diseases much faster.
Lead researcher Zoltan Kis from the University of Sheffield’s department of Chemical and Biological Engineering elaborated, saying the vaccines produced for COVID-19 have shown us what is possible using RNA technology. In one of the greatest scientific accomplishments of our generation, RNA technology has demonstrated the ability to change the timeline for developing and delivering a vaccine from years to months, Kis added.
This is a versatile and transformative technology that can be used to develop and mass-produce vaccines and treatments for other diseases. To achieve this, Kis said, we need to ensure that researchers across the globe have access to the very latest, state-of-the-art RNA manufacturing processes to support their research, development and large-scale production programmes.
The new vaccine production unit at the varsity will form a central part of US-based non-profit Wellcome Leap’s R3 programme, which aims to establish a network of vaccine manufacturing facilities across the world to increase the number of RNA-based treatments that are designed, developed and produced each year.
The network will also be capable of rapidly producing new vaccines as and when needed in response to future pandemics.
The lead researcher further said that COVID-19 has shown us how important it is to be prepared so we can respond to pandemics quickly. By improving the way we can make vaccines and by distributing these production processes across the globe, we will be able to respond to future pandemics much faster and a lot more effectively, Kis stressed.