South Australia to become home to nation leading mRNA development and production facility

24 Apr 2023
Nation leading technology will be used to develop and produce mRNA therapeutic drugs and vaccines in Adelaide, South Australia – creating more jobs and increasing Australia’s sovereign vaccine production capabilities.

Made possible through a $10 million funding initiative – co-funded equally by the Federal and South Australian Governments – the industry-leading pharmaceutical production facility BioCina will be a mRNA centre of excellence, to support the scale-up and production of therapeutic drugs and vaccines, within two years.

BioCina has already established capabilities to produce plasmids which are critical components of mRNA vaccines and a small-scale end-to-end mRNA process development laboratory, which is fully operational.

The funding will enable BioCina to begin manufacturing of mRNA to supply clinical trials, as well as scaling-up its facility to full commercial levels – creating 30 FTEs (not including construction roles) – including manufacturing mRNA at population volumes. 

BioCina will tap into the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials to progress world-leading innovation in precision medicine manufacturing technology and processes and implement them at the Adelaide site.

The joint investment from both State and Commonwealth governments underpins BioCina’s commitment to expanding the Adelaide site, strengthening a pillar of South Australia’s biomedical precinct, one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and a rapidly growing destination of choice of investment for health and medical manufacturers.

The $10 million of funding is being provided through the Commonwealth’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative and South Australia’s Department for Trade and Investment.

“This funding aims to deliver two complementary outcomes,” said BioCina’s CEO, Mark W. Womack. “The first is an increase in mRNA manufacturing and associated analytical capability at BioCina, and the second is a microfluidics-based device for parallel manufacture at the small scales required for the personal therapeutic vaccines market.

“This will increase BioCina’s capacity to produce mRNA pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, from initial fermentation of DNA plasmids to formulated mRNA-Lipid Nanoparticle (LNP) complexes for administration in clinical trials.

“BioCina is unique in Australia, and these investments will bring critical, missing clinical and commercial manufacturing capabilities to the national RNA ecosystem,” Continued Mr Womack.

“Projects such as this, highlight Australia’s opportunity to leverage BioCina’s strengths in development, manufacturing and innovation, to drive commercialisation and globally competitive local manufacturing.”

BioCina will have the capacity to work with researchers and biotech companies to develop and contract manufacture of the next generation of mRNA vaccines for diseases such as Malaria, Tuberculosis, Zika, Hepatitis B, HIV, Rabies, Influenza, Cystic Fibrosis and even Cancer.

In the coming years, manufacturing will see the development of a raft of other vaccines, which are currently approaching, moving through or completing clinical trials for other infectious diseases. 

The global market for mRNA therapeutics is expected to grow from $46.7 billion in 2021 to $101.3 billion by 2026[1].

[1] mRNA: Therapeutics and Global Markets 2021-2026 (September 2021).