RESEARCH COLLABORATIONS

COVID 19 pandemic spurs more Australian vaccine collaborations

SOURCE: Peter Parks/AFP
As countries prepare for the brunt of the pandemic, Australian researchers are working on potential vaccines against COVID-19.


By U2B Staff 

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Australian universities and biopharmaceutical firms are constantly collaborating with one another as the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies. 

Following after the University of Queensland and the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) efforts to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, Griffith University has announced a new partnership with Luina Bio to leverage its contract manufacture capabilities to develop a vaccine of their own.

Based in Brisbane, Luina Bio is Australia’s most experienced biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing firms. 

The organisation has more than 20 years of experience in delivering their expertise and training to serve the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and veterinary industries.   

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Griffith University’s Centre for Cell Factories and Biopolymers at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD) has developed a rapid response vaccine platform technology that will enable the design and manufacturing of a particulate viral vaccine. 

According to Luina Bio CEO Les Tillack, the vaccine platform technology will allow for low-cost and large-scale manufacturing of new pilot vaccine candidates that will be ready for both pre-clinical and clinical testing against an emerging viral threat. 

“Generation of such candidates can occur in a very short time frame, typically 2-3 months from commencement of the vaccine design process. These features make this technology ideally suited for vaccine development against emerging threats such as the Coronavirus,” he said. 

Covid 19 pandemic
There are about 35 other vaccine development initiatives across the globe. Source: Sergei Supinsky/AFP.

This collaboration is one among approximately 35 other vaccine candidates currently undergoing various phases of clinical trials and procedures before hitting the general market. 

The University of Queensland vaccine candidate has already undergone pre-clinical tests and is expected to begin human trials at least by the end of June

Aside from Australia, research collaborations in the US, UK, China and Europe are underway. As of now, although processes of trials and official approvals are being sped up in order to contain the viral pandemic, it will still take a considerable amount of time before an effective vaccine can be distributed throughout the healthcare sector. 

Principal Research Leader at GRIDD Professor Bernd Rehm explained that both Griffith University and Luina Bio are confident that they are well-positioned to take up opportunities to speed up vaccine development in the Queensland region and Australia. What sets this partnership apart from others is that the technology being implemented is much simpler and less expensive than other options underway. 

Considering those factors, the development of a feasible vaccine against the COVID-19 pandemic would likely be able to be considerably sped up. 

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“That this project is Brisbane-based provides decided benefits for Australians and we are seeing a spike in interest from the scientific community and the biotech industry to fund and exploit this approach,” added Tillack.   

He further elaborated that more collaboration within the health and research community needs to be done so that resources and expertise are collectively shared to beat this ongoing global crisis. 

“Those of us in the health and medical fields must band together to find solutions to this health crisis and do it expeditiously. The partnership between Griffith University and Luina Bio paves the way for work to deliver vaccine candidates for the public for both the short- and long-term.”