Moderna opens research hub in Melbourne

Biotechnology giant Moderna has opened a new research centre and regional headquarters in Melbourne in anticipation of the arrival of its mRNA manufacturing facility next year.

The Asia-Pacific Regional Research Centre for Respiratory Medicines and Tropical Diseases launched on Tuesday, with a stated mission of unlocking new advances in vaccines.

Minister for Industry and Innovation Ben Carroll opened the the research centre and headquarters flanked by a delegation of Moderna executives, who have travelled from Boston in the United States.

Mr Carroll said establishing the facilities “sends a strong signal to the world that we are global leaders in mRNA research and development – driving innovation to change lives and create jobs for years into the future.”

Australia’s clinical trials sector is growing but failing to attract a bigger share of global trials, according to MTPConnect

The first collaboration for the research centre is a $3 Million Quantitative Pharmacology Accelerator with the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) in in the inner-city auburn of Parkville.

The accelerator is expected to “help fast-track the development of mRNA medicines for diseases by using advanced computer models to predict the effects of treatments”, the government said.

It is expected to be the “first of many collaborations” with local research institutes, with Moderna hoping to use its new base of operations in Victoria to trial world-first mRNA vaccines in the state.

Last year, the Commonwealth and Victorian government entered a multi-billion-dollar deal with Moderna to begin manufacturing mRNA vaccines locally in what will be the first mRNA production facility to be located on a university campus and the first of its kind outside of North America.

The facility, located in nearby Clayton, remains under construction. When complete sometime next year, it will be capable of producing 100 million vaccine doses each year.

When the deal was announced, Moderna said the facility would see it partner with local researchers and institutions on research and development projects.

Dr Craig Rayner, the director of Moderna’s Asia-Pacific Regional Research Centre for Respiratory Medicines and Tropical Diseases, on Tuesday said the company saw “huge potential” from “being embedded within a world-leading research and clinician community” in Victoria.

Almost 60 per cent of Australia’s pharmaceutical exports originate from Victoria, making it the state’s highest-value advanced manufactured export, state government said.

Other states, including New South Wales and Queensland, also have mRNA manufacturing facilities planned, though they are not on the same scale as that of Moderna in Victoria.

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