Belgium‚Äôs eTheRNA has expanded its manufacturing capabilities to serve increasing demand for mRNA material driven by COVID-19 developments.
The firm has added high throughout research grade messenger RNA (mRNA) services in addition to its GMP capabilities at facilities on the Antwerp University Science Park in Niel, Belgium.
The decision to add a new 400 square-meter facility was driven by an increased demand for small scale research grade mRNA material, said Bernard Saegart, VP of Manufacturing at eTheRNA, who added expansion is likely.
‚ÄúIn order to set up our new GMP facility, a minimum number of personnel were required to do the manufacturing, including production, QA, QC, QP. However, that leaves extra capacity that can be filled,‚ÄĚ he told this publication.
‚ÄúFurthermore, the facility was built to have more capacity than required, so by adding more people, the capacity can be further increased. In 2021, capacity will be further increased by increasing batch size and reducing process time.‚ÄĚ
No mRNA-based product has yet reached approval. However, the modality has put itself at the center of attention on the back of the COVID-19 crisis, with many of the leading vaccine candidates being based on such technology. Moderna‚Äôs mRNA-1273 and Pfizer/BioNTech‚Äôs BNT162b2 are two such candidates close to reaching approval, potentially opening the floodgates for mRNA-based therapies and vaccines.
‚ÄúSince about half of the COVID-19 programs are RNA based, any therapies and manufacturing based on RNA is a lot more in the picture,‚ÄĚ said Saegart.
‚ÄúInterest by traditional CDMO [contract development and manufacturing organization] companies is expanding, but they lack knowledge and competence in this field. Typically, the current RNA manufacturing companies keep the production of drug substances in house and outsource the drug product, or only the fill finish process to the traditional CDMO‚Äôs. The availability of drug substance manufacturing capacity is limited.‚ÄĚ
Financial details of the expanded facility were not offered up.