Covid: Study on vaccine effectiveness released in UK
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The centre of excellence and training facility will be in the north-east of England, and those behind it have said they will work with the Government to help fight and prevent future pandemics and other infectious diseases. The site, which will expand on an existing centre in Darlington, should be ready by November and courses to train up the skills of scientists and technicians will be available from January. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology (messenger RNA) which carries instructions that tell the body to produce a specific tool that can be used to fight disease.
This technology can also be used in the treatment of cancer, HIV and heart disease, as well as COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr Lucy Foley, director of Biologics at CPI, the technology innovation organisation behind the new facility, said that this type of technology is a very effective way to treat diseases.
She said: “I think that industry is really shining a light on RNA and these chemically synthesised products now.
“These are much, much faster to manufacture, if we can get the cost of goods down, this is a much more promising way to treat disease in the future’.
“Having established itself as a breakthrough technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be prepared with the skills and facilities to support this emerging RNA industry.”
RNA vaccines are different to standard vaccines as they only use the actual genetic code of the virus.
This is different because standard ones only use weakened forms of the virus.
This means that the rate that mRNA vaccines can be produced is much quicker than usual as they do not need to use the actual virus to be created.
According to CPI, so far only there is only one company based in the UK that can develop, manufacture and encapsulate vaccines with RNA technology in one location.
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The new faculty will be constructed in way that will quickly make it much bigger and able to cope much better with emerging pandemics and diseases.
Dr Foley added: “Both the RNA Centre of Excellence and training academy will support the development of new licensed RNA products for the treatment of many different diseases.
“This is fantastic news for the biopharmaceutical industry, and for human health.”
The training academy will be lead by a partnership between CPI and the National Horizons Centre (NHC).
The research, teaching and training facility that is part of Teesside University will offer specialist courses on RNA technology.
Dr Jen Vanderhoven, director at the NHC, said: “With research, partnerships and training at our core, the NHC brings together industry, academia, talent and world-class facilities to create real-world impact.
“The global pandemic has shown the vital role that our sector plays, and it is important that we remain agile and responsive to ensure the UK remains a global life sciences leader.”
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