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Cape Town, 8 July 2022 – U.S. government researchers have agreed to collaborate with Afrigen Biologics Limited to share technical expertise related to the development of next-generation mRNA vaccines and therapeutics. The research collaboration agreement between Afrigen and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, will exchange scientific expertise that may be used to make mRNA vaccines.
Afrigen is part of the mRNA technology transfer hub programme that was established by the COVAX Vaccine Manufacturing Taskforce with the World Health Organization and the Medicines patent Pool as the programme’s co-leader. As announced on June 21, 2021, the programme is a global initiative that aims to improve health and health security by establishing sustainable, locally owned mRNA manufacturing capabilities in and for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The programme is based on a technology transfer “hub” – Afrigen – located in Cape Town South Africa, which will provide the technology development, training and technology transfer. NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) conducts basic, translational, and clinical research to design and develop prototype vaccines and biologics to protect against infectious diseases.
The mRNA vaccine platform has been used successfully in safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19. This has opened the door for expanding use of this platform to address other infectious diseases and cancer. VRC researchers, as part of pandemic preparedness efforts at NIAID, are working to develop mRNA vaccine candidates and antibody products against viral targets with pandemic potential.
The agreement will enable the sharing of technical skills and materials to expedite Afrigen’s goal of mRNA vaccine production and help VRC establish processes to make investigational mRNA vaccine products at its production and manufacturing facilities for early-stage clinical trials.
The collaboration includes sharing knowledge and expertise to help enable production of large amounts of DNA, in the mRNA in vitro transcription process, lipid nanoparticle formulation, and upon mutual agreement, research on next generation mRNA-based vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, influenza, cancer associated viruses such as HPV, and other diseases of importance in LMICs.
The collaboration will allow for frequent exchange of scientific data with technical achievements shared with the scientific community in coreferences and events. The collaboration will include visits between the two parties with site visits from Afrigen to the VRC in Maryland USA in 2022.
“The pursuit of effective vaccines for human diseases to improve public health is central to the mission of the NIAID Vaccine Research Center,” said Richard Koup, M.D., Acting Director of the NIAID Vaccine Research Center. “This collaboration allows us to exchange scientific expertise to further this mission and support Afrigen’s globally important research and vaccine discovery efforts.”
Afrigen Managing Director Professor Petro Terblanche said, “Through this collaboration, the mRNA Hub at Afrigen can fast track the end-to-end Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) of the first clinical trial material of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The VRC’s technical expertise in plasmid DNA manufacturing promises to be an invaluable contribution to building capacity and capabilities for mRNA vaccine production at Afrigen.”
Ms. Heather Merritt, the Charge d’Affairs at the United States Embassy in Pretoria said, “As South Africa’s top international health partner, the United States is proud of the decades of joint U.S.-South African scientific research and collaboration that has saved countless lives across the world. Today’s announcement marks yet another milestone in our commitment to expanding vaccine production capacity in South Africa. Coupled with investments from the U.S. Development Finance Corporation and several U.S. private sector firms, the NIH’s scientific collaboration with Afrigen will ensure that we continue to partner with South Africa to develop the next generation of mRNA therapeutics and vaccines.”
We invite you to join Upcoming colloquium: a scientific partnership to enhance mRNA vaccine production, where there will be a Q&A session.
Friday 8 July, 1 pm to 3 pm CET
Tel: +41 79 292 54 26
At the end of November, the Trends Impact Awards will reward SMEs and large companies that have a lasting impact on their environment. Prizes will be awarded in six categories, while a Global Impact Award will be given to the most comprehensive project. This week we present to you the Trends Impact Award for Resilience.
Africa has huge potential to manufacture vaccines that cater to the needs of its growing population, says a top Kenyan policy maker.
“Africa is the fastest growing continent, and we need to have the know-how to be able to manufacture vaccines,” said Dr. Patrick Osewe, chief of the Health Sector Group at the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Currently, just 1 percent of the vaccines used in Africa are manufactured on the continent.
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Petro Terblanche is the managing director of Afrigen – a South African biotechnology startup working with the WHO to develop its own mRNA vaccines – that will stand its ground not only in the fight against Covid-19, but also in the fight against HIV/Aids, TB and Ebola in the near future. She speaks to us about their efforts and what it could mean for Africa and the world.
World Immunization Week (WIW), celebrated in the last week of April, aims to highlight the importance of vaccines and how they protect people of all ages against many diseases, giving us the opportunity to pursue a life well-lived.
The 2022 theme “Long Life for All” aims to unify people around the idea that vaccines make it possible for us to follow our dreams, protect our loved ones and live a long, healthy life.
Ministère des Affaires étrangères français Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Biovac Afrigen Biologics (Pty) Ltd Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) African Union World Health Organization Unitaid
In January, Cape Town-based biotechnology company Afrigen Biologics announced that it has successfully produced a lab-scale batch of a COVID-19 vaccine that is similar to that made by pharmaceutical company Moderna. The achievement is particularly impressive since the vaccine uses the still relatively new mRNA vaccine technology. The achievement billed as the first successful “reverse engineering” of Moderna’s vaccine, has been hailed as an important milestone towards building capacity in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. Read More
Less than 20% of Africans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But vaccine inequity exists within Africa as well as between the continent and the rest of the world, with some countries having vaccinated less than 1% of their populations.
This session addresses solutions to vaccine inequity, highlighting issues of availability, accessibility, and affordability, as well as the role of philanthrocapitalism. Speakers will discuss the continent’s efforts to create its own locally-produced COVID-19 vaccine, skepticism and misinformation, and supply chain issues. https://lnkd.in/dg-cV-PR
Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines is a Cape Town based biotechnology company strategically directed, supported and capitalized by Avacare Healthcare Group and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa. It was founded in 2014 by Steven G. Reed (PhD) and Erik Iverson (JD, LLM), both of the Infectious Diseases Research Institute (IDRI) www.idri.org in Seattle. Afrigen drives a business strategy focussing on product development, bulk adjuvant manufacturing, and supply and distribution of key biologicals to address unmet healthcare needs. Through international partnerships and local capacity building, Afrigen has established the first ever adjuvant production and formulation technology centre on the African continent. This centre, in partnership with IDRI, a world leader in adjuvant development, focuses on next generation vaccine adjuvants, which are not only geared at preventing disease, but have therapeutic value. These adjuvants confer added potency and durability to vaccines. More recently, Afrigen has ventured into the novel CAM’s space where it aims to bring innovative, differentiated products to market.MORE ABOUT US
Specialised equipment commonly used in the formulation industry is housed at our R&D laboratories in Cape Town. Afrigen’s highly trained and experienced scientific staff assist with protocol development, validation and analyses. Accurate, reliable and timeous results performed in accordance with GLP principles are provided. Afrigen offers services to collaborators and outside organisations in two key areas: