Vic institute to tackle neglected diseases

Tara CosoletoAAP
Victoria's Burnet Institute is teaming up with drug maker Moderna to develop new vaccines.
Camera IconVictoria's Burnet Institute is teaming up with drug maker Moderna to develop new vaccines. Credit: AAP

A Victorian medical research organisation will partner with Moderna to develop new vaccines for emerging and neglected infectious diseases.

The Burnet Institute's work with Moderna's cutting-edge mRNA technology, which could lead to improved vaccines for malaria, hepatitis C and COVID-19, is being touted as a "game-changer".

"Developing vaccines traditionally has taken a decade or more, but we now know that needn't be the case," Burnet Institute director Professor Brendan Crabb AC said in a statement.

"Through this partnership and drawing on Moderna's expertise in mRNA vaccine development, we will be able to accelerate that development pathway.

"We are excited that the mRNA technology may also help solve the quest to find game-changing, high-efficacy malaria and hepatitis C vaccines."

The Burnet's Vaccine Initiative research team will provide vaccine antigens for Moderna to modify and return to the institute as mRNA candidates ready to test in pre-clinical models.

If the test results are promising, Moderna will consider extending the partnership to help progress these candidates through clinical trials.

"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," the vaccine manufacturer's senior director Hamilton Bennett said.

"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."

Moderna previously announced it would open a research and development hub in Victoria, with production of its mRNA vaccines expected to start from 2024.

The manufacturing hub, which will serve as the company's Australian and Oceanian headquarters, is forecast to produce about 100 million mRNA vaccines annually.

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