J&J, Merck back new UK vaccine manufacturing center
- The Oxford Science Park will be home will be home to the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Center, the first dedicated vaccine plant in the U.K., and will create more than 50 local jobs.
- The facility will focus on development and manufacture of vaccines for clinical trials and for emergency use against epidemic threats. The plant will be built with £66 million (about $85 million) from U.K. Research and Innovation, a government agency that directs research funding, through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
- The University of Oxford's Jenner Institute, Imperial College and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will work together to run the center, which should open in early 2022. Janssen Vaccines and Merck & Co. will provide £10 million, and GE Healthcare will provide manufacturing equipment.
The center aims to fill the gap in late-stage vaccine manufacturing process development. It will be used to rapidly manufacture vaccines in the event of a U.K. pandemic, as well as support global responses to epidemics caused by emerging, highly infectious pathogens such as Ebola and Zika.
It will also have facilities to manufacture personalized cancer vaccines and vectors for gene therapy. The center's core research teams will come from academia and industry.
Adrian Hill, the director of Oxford University's Jenner Institute, said in a Dec. 1 statement he sees the center as a way to meet the issues caused by a lack of commercial incentive to develop vaccines against outbreak pathogens. He said it will accelerate large-scale vaccine manufacturing and help stockpile them 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," Hill added.
The facility is part of a healthcare initiative within the £180 million ($229 million) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund that aims to speed up patient access to new medicines.
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