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Burnet Institute partners with Moderna to develop novel mRNA vaccines

  • Burnet Institute
  • 18 May 2022

Burnet Institute is to partner with world-leading mRNA vaccine manufacturer Moderna, through their cutting-edge mRNA Access program, to develop novel mRNA vaccines for a range of emerging and neglected infectious diseases aimed at improving the health of communities globally.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the important role of mRNA vaccines, and innovative scientific thinking is now needed to tackle many of the other high-burden infectious diseases, including malaria which is responsible for the death of half a million people, mostly children, each year.

Under the partnership agreement Moderna will provide expertise in designing mRNA vaccines for Burnet’s validated novel candidates in malaria, SARS-CoV-2 and hepatitis C.

Burnet’s Vaccine Initiative (BVI) research team will provide vaccine antigens to be modified and optimised by Moderna and returned to the Institute as mRNA candidates ready to test in pre-clinical models. Should the results prove promising, Moderna will consider extending the partnership to help progress these candidates through clinical trials.

Professor Brendan Crabb AC, Director and CEO of Burnet Institute called the partnership with Moderna’s mRNA Access program a potential ‘game-changer’ for communities needing vaccines to prevent the devastating impact of infectious diseases.

“When the world looked to science to address the pandemic threat of COVID-19, the success of mRNA and other COVID-19 vaccine platforms undoubtedly saved tens of millions of lives. We are excited that the mRNA technology may also help solve the quest to find game-changing, high-efficacy malaria and hepatitis C vaccines, as well as improving our understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Professor Crabb said.

“Developing vaccines traditionally has taken a decade or more, but we now know that needn’t be the case. Through this partnership and drawing on Moderna’s expertise in mRNA vaccine development we will be able to accelerate that development pathway.”

Burnet’s Vaccine Initiative (BVI) represents a unique portfolio of carefully selected, evidence-based and rationally engineered antigens that have been designed to generate broad immunity known to be protective in humans.

The BVI encompasses the work of lead investigators Professor Heidi Drummer, Professor James Beeson, and Dr Andy Poumbourios and their teams and builds on over 20 years of R&D at Burnet. BVI’s discovery science includes structural biology, candidate discovery and optimisation, novel immunogenicity assays, genomics, and clinical and population studies in Australia and internationally.

This partnership will expand Moderna’s links into Melbourne’s world-class biomedical community, having recently announced it would establish an mRNA therapeutics manufacturing facility in Victoria, Australia.

Hamilton Bennett, Senior Director of Vaccine Access and Partnerships at Moderna said: “We recognise that Burnet’s mission and objectives, to provide equitable access to life-saving health products and services to all, are in alignment with those of Moderna”.

“I am impressed with Burnet’s scope of research, reaching from the laboratory and into the field, and look forward to working with Burnet to accelerate the development of their novel candidates.”

Media contacts:

Burnet Institute: Angus Morgan +61 407 357 253