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Moderna signs up Lonza to boost scale-up of mRNA vaccine for coronavirus

Gareth Carpenter — 4 May 2020

Collaboration leverages CDMO’s expertise in tech transfer and manufacturing to aim for 1 million doses per day

Moderna has signed up CDMO Lonza to support larger scale manufacturing of its mRNA vaccine, mRNA-1273, against COVID-19 in a ten-year strategic agreement, the two companies announced on Friday.

Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer at Moderna said the long-term collaboration would allow the firm to accelerate its manufacturing capacity for mRNA-1273 tenfold.

“Lonza’s global presence and expertise are critical as we scale at unprecedented speed. Our common goal is to potentially enable manufacturing of up to 1 billion doses of mRNA-1273,” he said.

Albert Baehny, chairman and interim CEO at Lonza said the current pandemic illustrated the need to combine the best science with resilient supply chains that can scale.

“We are fully committed to leveraging our global network and experience in manufacturing technologies to support Moderna’s manufacture of mRNA-1273 as well as collaborating on future Moderna products,” he added.

Under the terms of the agreement, manufacturing suites will be established at Lonza’s facilities in the US and Switzerland. Technology transfer is expected to begin in June 2020, and the companies intend to manufacture the first batches of mRNA-1273 at Lonza US in July 2020.

The two partners said that over time, they intend to establish additional production suites across Lonza’s global facilities to be able to produce up to 1 billion doses of mRNA-1273 per year for worldwide use worldwide assuming the currently expected dose of 50 µg.

Last month, Moderna was awarded a grant of up to USD483 million from US government agency Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to accelerate development of mRNA-1273.

The money will also be used to fund manufacturing process scale-up to enable large-scale production in 2020 for pandemic response and Moderna plans to hire 150 new team members to support these efforts.

Last week, Moderna said it had submitted an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the US Food and Drug Administration for Phase 2 – expected to start this quarter - and late stage studies of mRNA-1273 if supported by safety data from a Phase 1 study.

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