Merck and MIT look to continuous cell-based vaccines in NIIMBL project

An 18-month project partners Merck & Co. with vendor Repligen and academia to develop approaches for continuous cell-culture based vaccine manufacturing.

The program, entitled ‘The Continuous Cell Culture for Viral Vaccines’ is being led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will bring together Big Biopharma firm Merck & Co. (known as MSD outside North America), bioprocessing vendor Repligen, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

It is one of 22 projects recently announced by the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) with a total funding of $13 million (€11.4 million).

The project is one of 22 NIIMBL sponsored programs. Image: iStock/Davizro

“The continuous cell culture for viral vaccines project addresses a need for continuous manufacturing approaches for cell-culture based vaccine manufacturing,” NIIMBL spokesperson Daniel Maiese told BioProcess Insider.

“It is an 18-month project in which the team will focus on developing a mechanistic model of vaccine production for the development and demonstration of the continuous operation of an upstream cell culture process for the production of a model vaccine.”

The approach will be applicable to a variety of vaccine production systems, he continued, adding the project also has implications for emerging products, such as gene and cell therapies.

Project Call 2.1

NIIMBL, a Manufacturing USA institute designed to advance biopharmaceutical manufacturing in the US, launched in 2017 as a cooperative agreement with the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the US Department of Commerce.

The institute initiated Project Call 2.1 in May 2018 to address technology and workforce issues within the biomanufacturing industry. The 22 programs selected include 14 technology and eight workforce development projects.

The full list of projects, including ‘The Continuous Cell Culture for Viral Vaccines,’ can be found here.

The institute has now announced Project Call 2.2 with a combined $4.5 million of funding available for technology and workforce development projects. Projects can be proposed here, and award decisions will be made in June.

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