Funding boost for CPI’s RNA vaccine innovation centre

The UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce (VTF) has funded CPI’s innovative training academy and manufacturing facility to further the development of novel RNA therapies and vaccines.

3D concept of DNA and RNA molecules

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) was granted £10.65 million to support its work in development, scale-up and manufacture of RNA therapies and finance the training centre already established at the site, which aims to upskill the future RNA workforce.

The RNA Centre of Excellence is the only UK site equipped to develop and manufacture millions of doses of a messenger and self-amplifying RNA vaccines. The Darlington-based centre was completed 2021 and will now benefit from the cash injection.

Nusrat Ghani, Science and Investment Security Minister stated: “We are now committed to…ensuring we are thoroughly prepared for future health emergencies and remaining at the forefront of the development of new therapies. This is why we are making this significant investment in CPI’s RNA facility in Darlington, a site with the potential to make enormous homegrown breakthroughs in the fight against disease.”

RNA technology enables vaccines to be developed rapidly, offering potential solutions for diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease through the creation of novel therapies. Additionally, this could result in greater access to personalised medicine.

COVID-19 vaccines have helped to prevent the illness worldwide and are a positive example of messenger RNA (mRNA)-based technology which has garnered great demand since the pandemic. Globally, the RNA-based therapeutics and vaccines market is predicted to be valued at $2.48 billion in 2028. Upskilling scientists at the RNA Training Academy is fundamental for the industry to realise this forecast.

The courses offered at the academy provide individuals with relevant industry skills such as RNA development and manufacture and RNA and lipid encapsulation. The training centre offers face-to-face courses for teams.

An independent advisory committee assists students learning about scale-up and manufacture at the RNA Training Academy. The committee includes RNA experts Professor Robin Shattock of Imperial College London, Dr Lucy Foley CTO at eXmoor Pharma, Professor Dan Bracewell from UCL and Dr Jonathan Haigh from Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.

CPI CEO Frank Millar explained that Teesside, where the centre is located, has long been established in the biomanufacturing sector. The building is set to attract more investors in the Life Sciences and position the UK as a leader in RNA therapeutics.