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LSHTM partner in UK’s first-ever dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is to play a key role in a new initiative to create cost-effective ways of developing and manufacturing vaccines to tackle dangerous diseases globally.
Caption: Vaccine vial Credit: WHO / S Hawkey

Led by the Jenner Institute, LSHTM is a partner in the UK’s first-ever dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC), a £66m investment by UK Research and Innovation as part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Medicines Manufacturing challenge.

Based in Oxford and expected to open in 2022, VMIC will be a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility that will pave the way for the rapid manufacture of vaccines in the event of a pandemic affecting the UK. It was also enable rapid global response to emerging infectious epidemic pathogens such as Ebola and Zika, and innovate new technologies including the manufacture of personalised cancer vaccines.

LSHTM is one of three academic institutions to join forces in the new company – VMIC UK – along with the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. The core research teams will be drawn from industry and academia, and will benefit from access to technologies and intellectual property created by the academic partners.

LSHTM is involved in pioneering a new generation of low cost bacterial vaccines produced in E. coli cells and will advise and support VMIC in the development of vaccines.

Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “From Ebola to HIV, infections have the potential to cause severe outbreaks and devastate societies and economies around the world, including the UK. We must be one step ahead and vaccines play a crucial part in stopping outbreaks in their tracks.

“I’m thrilled that the UK is taking a leading role in preventing disease outbreaks through the new Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre. I’m proud that LSHTM is playing a major part in the Centre, supporting the development of new vaccines and training the next generation of researchers who will shape the strategies needed to test vaccine safety and effectiveness.”

Additional funding of £10 million will come from commercial and other partners, including from those with extensive experience in vaccine manufacturing and development such as Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. and Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD). The Centre will be further supported by bioprocessing expertise and training from GE Healthcare.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said:

“Improving the development, production and application of new vaccines against infectious diseases requires expertise and collaboration across academia and industry.

“The Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre will play an important role in bringing expertise from industry and academia together to ensure we are prepared to respond to the threats of serious infections, including viruses with the potential to cause major national or global epidemics.”