The first dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) is coming to the UK in 2022, addressing gaps in late-stage vaccine manufacturing for clinical trials and emergency preparedness for epidemic and pandemic threats.
Led by the the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, the new centre has been awarded funding by UK Research and Innovation of £66 million ($86 million USD) through the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Medicines Manufacturing challenge.
“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,” said Adrian Hill, Jenner Institute Director. ‘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.’
Located on a new site at The Oxford Science Park, the VMIC will have the potential for additional commercial capability, such as for emergency preparedness, for larger scale manufacturing of vaccines to be funded by industry and the Department of Health and Social Care.
‘The Vaccines Manufacturing Centre will provide the infrastructure to develop vaccine manufacturing processes (TRL5-9+) at scale, building on the existing Medical Research Council (MRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded work at TRL 2-4.
The centre will be a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility, allowing for academic and industry collaboration on the development, design and manufacture of vaccines. In that regard it fulfills a similar role to the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre.
The Centre’s main grant funding comes through UK Research and Innovation, as part of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). Additional funding of £10 million will come from commercial and other partners, including Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. and Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD). The Centre will be further supported by bioprocessing expertise and training from GE Healthcare.
Three academic institutions joined forces in the new company – VMIC UK – which will run the centre: the University of Oxford, Imperial College and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
VMIC-UK will be supported by two industrial partners with extensive experience in vaccine manufacturing and development (Janssen, part of Johnson and Johnson, and MSD); expertise and training in state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment will be provided by GE Healthcare.
The UK government will be able to use the VMIC to manufacture vaccines rapidly in the event of a pandemic affecting the UK, for example influenza, and it will also enable rapid global response to emerging highly infectious epidemic pathogens such as Ebola and Zika.