Victorian Govt invests in mRNA Innovation Hub

Victorian Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford today announced the launch of the Victorian mRNA Innovation Hub (VMIH), which will work to develop next-generation mRNA vaccines and therapeutics to treat a range of diseases. It will also enable up-and-coming mRNA researchers to learn from some of the world’s best scientists.

The Hub is made up of four nodes and brings together mRNA experts from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS), The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) and The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology. The Hub is headquartered at MIPS and Monash RNA.

The state government is investing $5.4 million through the mRNA Victoria Activation Program (mAP) towards the $9.1 million project, which will support a total of 27 Victorian researchers. The funding aims to develop new technologies that will underpin mRNA therapeutics and vaccines that are more effective, cheaper and faster to produce. At the same time, the Hub will train a cohort of cross-disciplinary mRNA scientists to drive mRNA innovation and production in Victoria.

Victoria has arguably led the charge in the mRNA space, including the development of Australia’s first COVID-19 mRNA vaccine candidate that was developed at MIPS and is currently in clinical trials in partnership with the Doherty Institute. Professor Chris Porter, Chair of the Victorian mRNA Innovation Hub Management Committee, said Victoria’s mRNA ecosystem is on the cusp of significant opportunity but urgently needs to build a critical mass of highly trained scientists to drive domestic mRNA innovation and support this national imperative.

“We are lucky to have a pool of exceptional talent in mRNA research right here in Victoria; however, until now there has been no central hub bringing together the cross-disciplinary skills in molecular biology, mRNA biology, drug delivery and pharmaceutical sciences to drive this expansion,” said Porter, who is also Director of MIPS.

“The major aim of the Victorian mRNA Innovation Hub is to increase the efficiency of mRNA manufacture and delivery, to develop unencumbered IP to support the development of Australian mRNA products, and to train and upskill a community of mRNA scientists to drive Victorian mRNA innovation and create a skilled workforce.”

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC said the investment highlights Victoria’s world-class capability in the field of mRNA therapeutics.

“Monash University and the partners involved in this exciting venture are well positioned to lead Victoria’s end-to-end development of new mRNA vaccines and therapeutics for infectious and rare diseases. I extend my congratulations to all involved,” she said.

Monash BDI Director Professor John Carroll, a board member on the project, said that the new investment will help generate new IP that will stimulate the local biotech industry, creating jobs and economic growth for Victoria and the nation.

“Last year the Victorian Government made a significant $50 million investment to establish mRNA Victoria, an initiative responsible for leading the state’s world-class RNA and mRNA industry,” Carroll said. “By funding the launch of this Hub, we are in a stronger position than ever to boost local RNA capability and provide vaccine and medicine security for future generations.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Matthieu

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