In Saskatchewan, a new vaccine development center unique in the country

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In Saskatchewan, a new vaccine development center unique in the country

The facility can create any type of vaccine, be it protein subunits, RNA, viral vectors, live or inactive vaccines.

The International Center for Vaccine and Infectious Disease Research (VIDO-InterVac) at the University of Saskatchewan will unveil its new vaccine development center on Tuesday.

The The $28 million center is housed in the VIDO-InterVac Level 3 containment facility, a unique feature in the country.

The director of the International Center for Research on Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, Volker Gerdts, is delighted with this achievement.

It's really exciting and gratifying to see that all of this has finally come true and that we will soon be able to manufacture vaccines here, he says.

Mr. Gerdts explains that the facility can create any type of vaccine, whether protein subunits, RNA, viral vectors, live or inactive vaccines.

The new development center will make it possible to manufacture vaccines for humans and animals against potentially dangerous viruses, classified up to level 3. Eventually, VIDO-InterVac would like to acquire level 4 status in order to be able to work with the pathogens the most dangerous.

At the moment, the project is still in pilot mode, which makes it possible to move quickly from research to clinical trials. The research center hopes to have the facility fully operational by the end of next year.

Gerdts, however, clarifies that commercial production is only approved for animal vaccines. For human vaccines, approval stops at clinical trials, except in emergencies.

VIDO-InterVac will not be a commercial vaccine factory, explains the director of the center. We are a research organization. We focus on the production of vaccines that we develop here or those developed by other universities or by small biotechnology companies that cannot afford their own production center.< /p>

According to Volker Gerdts, the goal of the facility is to have a 90-100 day turnaround time for vaccines. Maximum production capacity will depend on the technology needed for each vaccine, he points out.

However, the facility could produce 40 million doses of its own COVID-19 vaccine annually, currently in Phase 2 clinical trials.

Volker Gerdts welcomes the enthusiasm of several scientists to work at the International Center for Research on Vaccines and Infectious Diseases.

He is delighted that the facility can promote recruitment and attract renowned scientists .

Over the past 15 months, eight other scientists have been hired to work on it, says Gerdts.

For virologist Alyson Kelvin, who has worked in the field of viruses and immunology for twenty years, the expansion of this facility is the icing on the cake.

Having something that allows us to make a difference, at my own institution, is probably the most exciting point of my career, said Ms. Kelvin. The latter is also a member of the World Health Organization committee in charge of designing the SARS-CoV2 vaccine.

Researcher Arinjay Banerjee is also enthusiastic about the potential of the facility. He is specifically interested in zoonotic viruses transmitted by bats.

“There are coronaviruses in wildlife reservoirs, in particularly in bats, which could make the jump to humans.

— Arinjay Banerjee, Researcher

Mr. Banerjee was working in Toronto during the pandemic. His experience at the University of Saskatchewan and the possibilities presented by pathogens requiring a laboratory with a high level of containment brought him back to Saskatoon.

The vaccine development center was funded through a combined effort of the City of Saskatoon, the Government of Saskatchewan and the federal government.

With information from Sam Maciag

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