With Arcturus mRNA, Catalent bags another COVID vaccine project

Catalent will make scaled-up batches of Arcturus Therapeutics’ mRNA vaccine candidate from a customized suite at its Madison, Wisconsin facility. The CDMO says it has been presented with around 100 opportunities to support COVID-19 development projects.

Under terms of the deal, financials of which have not been divulged, contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Catalent will make Arcturus’ COVID-19 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine candidate LUNAR-COV19 to support clinical trials.

The potential single-shot vaccine uses Arcturus’ STARR Technology platform, which combines self-replicating RNA with a nanoparticle delivery system and is intended to produce antibodies against COVID-19 inside the human body.

Image: iStock/JONGHO SHIN

Work will be carried out at Catalent’s Madison, Wisconsin facility within a customizable ‘flex-suite,’ Mike Riley, president of Biologics, North America at Catalent told us. Arcturus is completing a tech transfer to the site, he said, and Catalent will leverage its bioprocessing expertise, GMP infrastructure, and analytics capabilities to make multiple batches of the vaccine candidate, beginning in June.

This is the second major coronavirus-related project Catalent has announced in the past week. The CDMO has been signed up to provide fill and finish for Johnson & Johnson’s recombinant vaccine candidate against the virus. The work will take place at Catalent’s Bloomington, Indiana site, where the CDMO is looking to hire 300 staff to support the program.

And in its Q3 fiscal year 2020 presentation yesterday, Catalent said it has been presented with around 100 opportunities to help firms develop drugs and vaccines against COVID-19 across all its business divisions. Of these, around 90 involve unique molecules, representing about 45% of all coronavirus products reportedly under active development.

“We are continuing to service our customers with non-COVID products so we’re committed to continue manufacturing these products, but obviously a number of COVID therapies and vaccines are moving forward and industry is looking for solutions [on how to produce them],” Riley told us. “We have the products and the capabilities to support this.”

 

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