NSW is set to lead Australia with a first-of-its-kind pilot facility to develop mRNA and RNA drugs and vaccines, to combat disease and save lives.
The $96 million facility will be established in partnership with all NSW universities, and will include laboratories and pre-clinical trial spaces to enable early-stage RNA-based drug development.
The state government’s funding for the facility aims to attract commercial investment in mRNA and RNA production here in Australia, according to NSW premier Dominic Perrottet.
“We are the first state in Australia to deliver a pilot manufacturing facility to spearhead the establishment of a local RNA industry,” he said. “The COVID pandemic has demonstrated to the world that it is critically important that we have the capability to develop vaccines quickly and for our country to have sovereign capability.
“The advent of mRNA vaccines and the crucial role they’ve played in getting NSW back on the road to a pandemic recovery is just the beginning of what this incredible emerging medical technology can do. There is no better state than NSW to grow Australia’s emerging RNA industry into a global player.”
The facility will bridge the gap between NSW’s RNA research and a viable commercial RNA industry, minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney and minister for Trade and Industry, Stuart Ayres said.
“Our RNA research strengths are unparalleled – we have the research talent, a thriving innovation ecosystem and we as a government are ready to take research translation and commercialisation to the next level,” Ayres said.
“There is also the potential for this facility to be scaled up to significantly increase our sovereign capacity in vaccine production, strengthening the state’s resilience against future pandemics.
“Our world-leading research talent and expertise in RNA R&D will also attract international investment in NSW R&D, bringing companies from all over the world to use our pilot facility.”
The facility is an investment in NSW’s position as a global force in medical research and therapeutics, with the medical technology sector contributing $2 million to the state’s economy.
The NSW government’s Accelerating R&D in NSW Action Plan will lead future industries and jobs by building strong partnerships between universities and industry.
“The NSW government has already announced the formation of the NSW RNA Bioscience Alliance, which brings together the best and brightest at our leading universities and research institutes to advance RNA research, development and manufacturing,” Parliamentary secretary to the premier Gabrielle Upton said.
“This is a significant milestone in the creation of the RNA ecosystem and future R&D commercialisation, with our academics playing a major role in driving developments here in NSW for decades to come.”
The NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee convener Professor Barney Glover congratulated the NSW government on the significant investment.
“Together, we are creating a strong, research-focused RNA ecosystem and research workforce for NSW,” Glover said.
“Universities look forward to working closely with government and industry, to utilise and translate our collective research strengths to achieve real impact for the communities we serve.”
The pilot facility will commence subject to the approval of a final business case.
Vaccines are only the tip of the iceberg in the range of RNA therapeutics that are revolutionising medicine, UNSW NSW Bioscience Alliance leader Professor Pall Thordarson said.
“A manufacturing capability would position Australia as a leader in the development of novel RNA technologies, and the NSW universities are proud to collaborate with NSW government and industry partners to drive the development of the RNA ecosystem in NSW,” Thordarson said.