Merck Partners with Afrigen Biologics on mRNA Vaccines

04.07.2024 - German chemicals, pharmaceuticals and life sciences group Merck entered a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Afrigen Biologics to support the development of an mRNA vaccine technology platform. The collaboration is aimed at advancing mRNA platform manufacturing capabilities, scaling up production, optimizing processes, and providing troubleshooting expertise, the companies said.

“Leveraging our comprehensive chemical portfolio and custom production capabilities, we offer cutting-edge experience for mRNA manufacturing, ensuring a seamless journey from research to production,” said Bert de Vet, head of Commercial EMEA Process Solutions, Life Science business sector of Merck.

As part of the MoU, Merck will support Afrigen’s Center of Excellence and training initiatives aimed at building capacity in LMICs to produce mRNA vaccines and therapeutics. The mRNA technology transfer program, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), is based on a South African consortium establishing and validating an mRNA manufacturing platform at a central site and transferring the technology platform to partners.

According to Merck, the Afrigen-based mRNA vaccine tech transfer program will provide sufficient transfer of know-how to allow the current 15 recipient manufacturers in the program to produce and release mRNA vaccines at scale to support clinical development, national as well as regional marketing authorization and WHO prequalification, and sustainable supply to meet local and regional vaccine demand.

“Following the launch of the program in 2021, we have successfully developed mRNA vaccine technology R&D and production capabilities. Our progress has been accelerated by Merck’s technical expertise,” said Petro Terblanche, CEO of Afrigen Biologics.

Ike James, head of Technology Transfer at Medicines Patent Pool, added: “What sets the mRNA technology transfer program apart is the exceptional collaboration among numerous partners, all dedicated to empowering LMICs to develop and manufacture the mRNA vaccines of the future. Today's MoU signing between Afrigen and Merck is a clear testament to this shared commitment and a significant step in this journey.”


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