Oxford Biomedica plc, a leading gene and cell therapy group, announced that it has signed a Collaboration Agreement with the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), a not-for-profit organisation established to provide the UK’s first strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability. This five year Agreement will involve the organisations working collaboratively to enable the manufacture of viral vector based vaccines, contributing towards a rapid increase in UK domestic capacity for this specialised field of vaccine manufacturing.
Both Oxford Biomedica and VMIC are original members of the Oxford University manufacturing consortium focussed on scaling-up the GMP manufacture of the adenovirus vector based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222 (previously known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19), which has entered clinical trials at multiple sites in the UK. AstraZeneca has now taken over global responsibility for the manufacturing, development and distribution for AZD1222 with an initial clinical and commercial supply agreement for multiple batches signed between AstraZeneca and Oxford Biomedica on the 28 May.
As part of the Collaboration Agreement, VMIC will provide manufacturing equipment for Oxford Biomedica to rapidly equip two new GMP manufacturing suites within Oxford Biomedica’s new 7,800 m2 commercial manufacturing centre, Oxbox, located in Oxford, UK. This will provide significant additional manufacturing capacity and enable further scale up for AZD1222 from the summer of 2020 as needed to help supply UK and European vaccine demand. These suites could also potentially be utilised for other viral vector vaccine candidates. As part of the Agreement, Oxford Biomedica will provide training and technical assistance to VMIC staff to accelerate the operational readiness and GMP manufacturing capabilities for viral vector vaccine candidates at VMIC’s new manufacturing site located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. The VMIC facility is due to open in mid-2021, a year ahead of schedule.
The Agreement also provides a framework for a longer-term partnership between Oxford Biomedica and VMIC, whereby Oxford Biomedica could rapidly provide its commercial scale manufacturing capacity to supply other novel viral vector vaccine candidates for the UK population, when needed.
John Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford Biomedica, said: “Since we became involved in addressing the urgent need for UK manufacturing capacity for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate AZD1222, we have strived to support VMIC’s broader goal of accelerating and supporting UK manufacturing capacity and capabilities for vaccines more generally. This highly collaborative partnership allows for a rapid deployment capability to be established, and also accelerates fit out and utilisation of another two GMP manufacturing suites within our new commercial manufacturing facility, Oxbox.”
Matthew Duchars, Chief Executive Officer of Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, said:
“This collaboration with Oxford Biomedica means that together we can significantly increase the UK’s capacity to manufacture viral vectors vaccines as part of a national effort in response to COVID-19. This marks a major milestone for VMIC in setting up collaborative partnerships with industry – this is the first collaboration agreement outside of our founding partners under VMIC’s longer term objective of boosting the UK’s vaccines manufacturing capability.”
Kate Bingham, Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, said: “The Government is backing the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre as a crucial part of securing long-term vaccine manufacturing capability in the UK. Viral vector Covid-19 vaccine candidates are showing significant promise. This new partnership between VMIC and Oxford Biomedica marks a major milestone in increasing the UK manufacturing capacity of viral vector vaccines and will specifically help ensure that we have the right skills in place to manufacture a vaccine as soon as one is available.”