Victoria’s first mRNA innovation hub backed by state government

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A collaborative team of Melbourne researchers from Monash University and the University of Melbourne have received $5.4 million from the Victorian government to establish The Victorian mRNA Innovation Hub to develop next-generation mRNA vaccines and therapeutics to treat a range of diseases.

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 (Doherty Institute), 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 funding, which is part of the state government’s mRNA Victoria Activation Program initiative, 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 next generation mRNA innovation and production in Victoria.

Victoria has 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.

Director of MIPS and Chair of The Victorian mRNA Innovation Hub Management Committee, Professor Chris Porter, said that 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 Professor Porter.

“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.”

Read the full Monash News story here.