Univercells’ presence in the World’s biotech hub: a significant leap for RNA vaccine manufacture
Infectious diseases pose an escalating threat to life and the economy driven by climate change, worldwide migration, and accelerated economic development. Vaccines are our best defense against the next pandemic. But even if pharma companies can develop them quickly, producing sufficient quantities to vaccinate the global population is time consuming and costly.
There are still several practical constraints in the way vaccines are produced that need to be overcome if we are to effectively tackle potential future pandemics and prevent the rapid spread of disease. These include ensuring stringent process control and purification of the final product to eliminate impurities and refining the analytical methods for characterizing and testing the finished product.
mRNA vaccines in particular require technology that can offer a cost-effective manufacturing process with a well-defined product characterisation. Conventional mRNA manufacturing methods are complex and laborious which is holding drug developers back. During a pandemic, rapid scale-up is needed to be able to produce large volumes of vaccines. Operational challenges of this nature are slowing down the pace of mRNA vaccine manufacturing inhibiting new mRNA vaccines from becoming an economical and fast response to emerging health crises.
One company that has stepped up to meet these challenges is Univercells. This global Life Science company is tackling the need for innovation in drug manufacturing technology by improving both biomanufacturing technology and processes to make drugs easier and cheaper to produce. Through its affiliates, Univercells can provide access to a complete range of products and services for more cost-effective production technology, manufacturing capacity and support services to help emerging players develop and produce drugs more quickly.
One of Univercells’ affiliate companies, Quantoom Biosciences is an example of how Univercells is fulfilling its mission to eliminate entry barriers for RNA manufacturers to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing vaccine development landscape. By designing innovative technologies, Quantoom is able provide a way to make mRNA more affordable.
Currently, the production of a single vaccine requires millions of dollars of investment, know-how and complex infrastructure to bring it to market. This is often financially out of reach for smaller organizations, hindering their ability to respond to diseases and epidemics.
Quantoom’s NtensifyTM system is a low footprint automated RNA production system that addresses the current constraints in RNA manufacturing such as characterization, process know-how, cost and process complexity. The Ntensify platform is construct agnostic, allowing any DNA size to be used as starting material and still achieve the high purity, yield, titer and safety that is required for GMP manufacturing. The platform comes in multiple production sizes that can meet production needs ranging from R&D and clinical to commercial scale.
Univercells opened offices, labs and a showroom in Boston this year to showcase the Ntensify platforms. Quantoom will be one of the first affiliate companies to welcome customers to the site. Boston has a long history of biotech and pharma innovation and is home to almost 1,000 Biotech companies ranging from Pharma giants such as Biogen, Shire and Takeda to a large number of smaller companies and start-ups (1).
“Being in Boston, the heart of the global biotech ecosystem, will allow us to be more hands-on to accelerate our customers’ mRNA vaccine development” said Oladimeji Fashola, Quantoom’s Chief Technology Officer.
While Quantoom will benefit from the dynamic environment and talent that Boston has to offer, its presence will also serve as a strategic hub for collaboration with leading medical institutions and pharmaceutical and biotech partners. These partnerships will continue to advance the development of the technology.
1. Boston is Now the Largest Biotech Hub in the World, February 2023 https://www.epmscientific.com/blog/2023/02/boston-is-now-the-largest-biotech-hub#:~:text=Boston%20is%20home%20to%20almost,smaller%20companies%20and%20start%2Dups.