The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has partnered with German biopharmaceutical firm CureVac that is developing a transportable automated messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine printing platform.
The RNA Printer platform is intended to rapidly produce lipid-nanoparticle (LNP)-formulated mRNA vaccine candidates for known, as well as unknown pathogens known as Disease X.
As part of the three-year alliance, CEPI will pay CureVac $34m to support the development of a prototype of the platform with.
CureVac will use the platform for preclinical development of vaccine candidates against Lassa fever, rabies and Yellow fever.
After successful preclinical testing, two vaccine candidates resulting from the collaboration will be advanced into Phase I clinical trials.
CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett said: “CureVac’s vaccine platform could be a game-changer, radically improving our ability to respond to the emergence of Disease X.
“Disease X could emerge suddenly and have deadly consequences-we’ve seen this happen with Ebola, MERS coronavirus, Zika and countless other diseases.
“That’s why we’re striving to develop rapid-response vaccine platforms-like CureVac’s mRNA technology-to defend against these unknown pathogens.”
mRNA transports genetic information from the DNA into a cell that is involved in protein production.
While traditional vaccines use live or inactivated pathogens to trigger an immune response, the new LNP mRNA technology delivers mRNA into a cell and instructs it to generate a specific protein or antigen.
CureVac CEO Daniel Menichella said: “CureVac’s mRNA technology can be designed to encode for many proteins or antigens, offering rich potential for the development of vaccines to protect against deadly pathogens.
“We are excited to be working with CEPI to unlock The RNA Printer’s potential for rapid onsite delivery to outbreak regions, as well as in hospital pharmacy settings for personalised medicine production.”
CEPI noted that The RNA Printer can deliver enough amount of LNP-formulated mRNA to produce more than a 100,000 doses within few weeks.
The capability to produce mRNA vaccine candidates against a variety of pathogens using the same technology is expected to save time and reduce costs, compared to other vaccine platforms.