BioNTech announces mRNA facility at La Trobe

2 minute read

It is hoped the partnership will propel Victoria’s – and Australia’s – place in the biotech world.

Global biotechnology giant BioNTech will set up shop at La Trobe University, following the announcement of a new state of the art mRNA clinical scale manufacturing facility at the University’s Melbourne Campus.   

The facility will help develop new investigational mRNA therapies for complex diseases including cancer. BioNTech has previously partnered with Pfizer to make a covid vaccine.  

The facility comes from an agreement facilitated by the Victorian government, which also announced funding to establish a new Victorian Centre for AI in Medical Innovation at La Trobe, which will sit alongside the mRNA facility.  

“This partnership means more mRNA expertise in our state, more treatments for people with hard-to-treat cancers – and 1,200 more local jobs,” Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan said.  

Minister for Economic Growth Tim Pallas described the partnership as “cementing [Victoria’s] standing as a global destination for biotechnology investment, research and talent, and ensures we remain at the forefront of mRNA innovation”.  

La Trobe Chancellor the Hon John Brumby AO said the investment is “truly groundbreaking and a huge step forward for La Trobe and Victoria”.  

“La Trobe is the perfect location for these facilities, with our world-leading capability in infection and immunology as well as in AI and digital innovation,” Mr Brumby said. 

“The planned BioNTech manufacturing mRNA facility will connect groundbreaking research and developments in mRNA vaccines and therapies with La Trobe’s research expertise, building on our already established national and global partnerships in cancer, cardiovascular and infectious disease,” La Trobe’s Vice Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said. 

BioNTech chief operating officer Dr Sierk Poetting said: “The strategic partnership focuses on the empowerment of innovations in the field of mRNA by providing high-tech manufacturing capabilities and expertise to curate encouraging projects for further development. 

“The BioNTainers we will be delivering are a lighthouse project tailored to the needs of the local mRNA ecosystem. The material manufactured there will support preclinical and clinical development of mRNA-based medicines.” 

BioNTech co-founders Professor Ugur Sahin and Professor Özlem Türeci, CEO and chief medical officer respectively, said they had chosen Victoria for its involvement in mRNA research.  

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