26 September 2023

CSIRO vaccine lab a boost against COVID

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The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has opened a new lab to bolster the nation’s ability to produce medical vaccines and drug treatments onshore.

Chief Executive of CSIRO, Larry Marshall said researchers at CSIRO’s new National Vaccine and Therapeutics Lab in Melbourne would turn vaccine and drug candidates into products that could be manufactured in large quantities for clinical trials.

Dr Marshall said the ability to do this in Australia, rather than needing to go overseas, had been the “missing link” in the country’s biomedical science sector’s ability to produce vaccines and drugs.

“The new lab follows a successful pilot facility in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when CSIRO scaled up vaccine candidates that had been developed onshore as part of a national strategy to combat this emerging threat,” Dr Marshall said.

“We created the pilot facility in anticipation of disease ‘X’ – an expected but unknown disease that might impact us,” he said.

“It turned out to be COVID-19.”

Dr Marshall said the problem facing Australia’s biomedical industry had been that most vaccine and drug candidates needed to be sent overseas to be produced in large quantities for clinical trials, “adding burdensome costs that have crushed many Australian businesses and researchers as the invention languishes on the lab bench”.

“This new shared National Lab will help Aussie companies bridge that ‘valley of death’ – the gap between the lab bench and making a product that’s having an impact on people’s lives,” Dr Marshall said.

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