Fujifilm to use PNI tech to make nanoparticles for VLP’s COVID vaccine

VLP Therapeutics has hired Fujifilm Corp to help it manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for clinical trials.

Under the deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, Fujifilm will produce the lipid nanoparticle that is used to deliver the mRNA-based vaccine. The firm will also be involved in process and formulation development.

The aim is to support efforts to move the vaccine into clinical trials.

Image: iStock/Andrei Stanescu

Mizuki Itou, a spokesperson for Fujifilm Holdings – Fujifilm Corp’s parent company – told us “This is handled by the Pharmaceutical Products division of Fujifilm Corporation in Japan.”

Itou explained the firm will use technology from PNI’s NanoAssembler range to make the nanoparticles, adding that production would be carried out at a Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co facility in Japan’s Toyama Prefecture.

Fujifilm gained access to the technology in March when it partnered with Canada-based PNI – Precision Nano Systems – in a deal focused on adding nanomedicine development and production capabilities to its offering.

Itou added that Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies – the group’s contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) – is not involved in the project.

COVID-19

VLP’s COVID-19 candidate is based on self-amplifying RNA vector technology. The idea is to deliver genes that change the features of macrophages or dendritic cells, enabling them to activate the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

The vaccine has been shown to induce virus neutralizing antibodies in animal studies within two weeks of vaccination.

According to a report by NS-Healthcare, VLP plans to carry out further animal studies and clinical trials in Japan with National Centre for Global Health and Medicine, National Institutes of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition, Oita University, and Osaka City University.

The vaccine development project is also being supported by Japan’s Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) under a deal agreed in August.

Planning for commercial scale production of the vaccine is ongoing.

Itou told us “As of now, nothing has been decided with regard to the commercial supply. We will discuss with VLP Therapeutics as the project progresses.”

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