$50 million to make mRNA vaccines

Damian Purcell features on ABC News Breakfast to discuss the Vic Government’s investment for an mRNA manufacturing facility.

Announced last month, the State Government will commit $50 million to establish an mRNA vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing facility in Victoria.

mRNA vaccines use new technology, the same as used in Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against COVID-19. The facility will produce these vaccines but could also be used for targeted cancer treatments and to fight other diseases.

Professor Damian Purcell (Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity) discussed the importance of the new facility on ABC News Breakfast.

“It’s important given the rise of new COVID variants as it's not going to be a one size fits all solution with the vaccines - some vaccines are giving protection from disease but not from reinfection," Damian says.

"That’s the benefit of this RNA technology - it's very rapidly tunable to new variants that arise and its likely that different locations geographically will have their own variants. So I think its really important that we have the capacity to manufacture for our own needs in this country," he says.

Damian also featured on The World Today (ABC News) regarding the announcement and said that boosting mRNA vaccine production here in Australia will help fight other diseases. He would like the technology to be used to treat a virus which is found in high rates in Central Australia and some Aboriginal communities.

“Human T-Cell Leukemia virus, which is capable of causing fatal leukemia –  we have a high prevalence of this in some communities in Australia. This is an opportunity to turn this technology to treat what is otherwise a neglected disease” he says.

“Many conditions will be suddenly affordable to treat with a personalized approach…it will transform the health of many people,” Damian says.

The manufacturing facility is to be developed in partnership with the federal government, The University of Melbourne, The Peter Doherty Institute and Monash University.

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