Norvax (formerly ECAM Norway) has launched the Norwegian Vaccine Factory – Norsk Vaksinefabrikk – the first vaccine factory in Norway for pandemic preparedness. located in the Borgeskogen Business Park in Sandefjord. This week, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with SINTEF to develop a platform for the production of mRNA vaccines. This technology has made its breakthrough in the COVID-19 pandemic. The first two vaccines approved against COVID-19 use mRNA technology. Sequences from viral genes are packaged in lipid nanoparticles, injected into muscle cells, and these cells produce proteins encoded by the gene sequences. These proteins induce the natural immune system of the body to produce antibodies that protect against future infection.
The goal for Norvax is both to develop and produce mRNA vaccines on an industrial scale, as well as to find ways to stabilize the mRNA vaccines to increase their shelf life.
The Department of Biotechnology and Nanomedicine at SINTEF has expertise in lipid nanoformulation of therapeutic RNA, including advanced methods for quality control and physicochemical characterization in addition to automated, highly efficient biological testing in cell cultures. An ongoing strategic SINTEF project strongly contributes to building competence in the entire development process from sequence design and mRNA synthesis, purification, formulation, quality testing and preclinical testing in selected animal models. The collaboration with SINTEF will also involve the plan to scale up production from a laboratory scale to a large industrial scale.
– We are very pleased that SINTEF will work with us to establish a platform for mRNA vaccines. The competence and experience of the researchers at SINTEF will be crucial for us to be able to quickly build capacity on the development of new vaccines and contribute to making Norsk Vaksinefabrikk competitive internationally, says Åge Nærdal, CEO of Norvax AS.
– mRNA used for both vaccines and therapy has an enormous potential to prevent and cure disease in Norway and the world. We are already working with international partners in projects that, for example, will develop new delivery systems for RNA-based nanomedicines for the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease. As we have seen from the COVID-19 vaccines, the development in this area is very fast, so we are happy to now be able to support Norwegian business in the knowledge race for the effective and safe medicines of the future, says Sjoerd Hak, research leader in biotechnology and nanomedicine in SINTEF.