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Government backs CPI to develop mRNA vaccine library

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has received a £5 million investment from the Government to support the development of an mRNA ‘vaccine library’.

The vaccine library will form the basis of a rapid response facility, enabling mRNA vaccines to be developed at pace to help protect against new variants of COVID-19.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was the first in the world to be approved for emergency use, was created using mRNA biotechnology.

Research is ongoing into the effectiveness of this and other current vaccines in combating the recently identified Kent, Brazil and South African strains of the disease.

New variants will likely continue to emerge in the future that are vaccine resistant, which means new vaccines will be needed.

Based in Redcar and part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, CPI has been working with the UK Vaccine Taskforce since March 2020, applying its expertise to support the fight against coronavirus.

CPI is currently the only company based in the UK capable of batch developing mRNA vaccines ready for use in clinical trials and manufacture.

Chief executive Frank Millar said: ​“We’re delighted to be a key part of the UK’s ongoing fight against coronavirus, which has had such a devastating impact over the past year.

“It’s essential that we prepare for a future living with the threat of COVID-19 and the library of vaccine candidates we are building here in Darlington will help future-proof against further outbreaks caused by new strains of the disease.

“It will mean that as soon as a new strain of COVID-19 is identified, the relevant vaccine can be selected and rapidly manufactured for use in clinical trials, in a very similar way that we see flu vaccines developed each year.”