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April 06, 2020

Supporting manufacture of a trial vaccine for COVID-19

By Cytiva

A new partnership with the University of Queensland to speed up vaccine manufacture.


University of Queensland scientists working on vaccine research program in the lab.

University of Queensland scientists working on vaccine research program in the lab.

There are high hopes for an experimental vaccine for COVID-19 being developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane. Cytiva, formerly known as GE Healthcare Life Sciences, is developing a specific prototype affinity resin and providing technology and services to support the efforts of those scientists. Currently in pre-clinical testing, the vaccine is being prepared to enter clinical trials.

Cytiva will bring manufacturing support and technology to the overall program, including supporting the making of clinical trial phase I vaccine at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), an Australian government scientific research group. Cytiva will also create a specific prototype affinity resin for vaccine purification at its site in Uppsala and support scale up with planning underway for phase II material manufacturing through its Fast Trak center at Locke Drive, Marlborough.

Professor Trent Munro, Director National Biologics Facility & Program Director Rapid Response Vaccine Pipeline at UQ, says: “The Cytiva team has been amazing in understanding our needs and offering any and all resources to push this critical program forward. We look forward to building the partnership over the coming months.”

Emmanuel Ligner, President, Cytiva, says: “The COVID-19 crisis has brought together the scientific community like never before. Our global team is helping to accelerate the work of vaccine researchers like those at the University of Queensland, as well as diagnostic developers, to bring access to much-needed solutions.”

Work at the University of Queensland Lab in Brisbane, Australia

Work at the University of Queensland Lab in Brisbane, Australia.

UQ proprietary molecular clamp technology forms the basis of the vaccine platform, with co-inventors, Dr Keith Chappell, Dr Dan Watterson and Professor Paul Young leading the COVID-19 vaccine research program. Their COVID-19 vaccine candidate targets the virus’ ‘spike protein’ and is designed to lock this protein in its native shape, allowing the human immune system to be able to recognize and then neutralize the virus. Developing an prototype affinity resin for a vaccine candidate is an important step in developing the material for clinical trials as well as preparing scale up equipment for future mass production.

In January 2020, UQ was tasked by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. One month later, the team created their first vaccine candidate in the laboratory. Widely reported as being one of the fastest moving vaccine programs for COVID-19, UQ’s candidate is currently in pre-clinical testing.

Cytiva also recently collaborated with Sona Nanotech, a diagnostics company based in Canada. Sona is leading a consortium of diagnostic test developers to create a rapid response, lateral flow test that will directly identify the COVID-19 virus and provide in-field test results in minutes, without the use of specialized laboratory equipment or technicians. Sona has now commenced development of a functional prototype of the rapid-response test.