Covid-19: Wacker Biotech

Manufacturer of actives for mRNA-based vaccines

When it comes to fighting the current pandemic, a multitude of pieces must fall into place. One of those pieces is Wacker Biotech. Active ingredients for mRNA-based vaccines are one example of the products made by Wacker Biotech on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. Consequently, Wacker Biotech plays a vital role in global efforts to beat the coronavirus pandemic.

mRNA-Based Vaccines – a New Class of Vaccines

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, an army of scientists and researchers have been hot on the trail of a major breakthrough, working at full throttle to come up with vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 – and finding successful candidates, moreover, at record speed. In our efforts to curtail the pandemic, a great deal is expected from gene-based vaccines, which are divided into mRNA, DNA and vectored vaccines. Unlike conventional vaccines, immunization in the case of gene-based vaccines does not involve injecting pathogens or parts of pathogens – patients instead merely receive the genetic information needed to produce an individual antigen so as to trigger the desired immune response in the body.
The concept behind mRNA vaccines revolves entirely around messenger ribonucleic acid – a key molecule in the human body. As a messenger, its role is to transport assembly instructions between our genetic material and the protein factories in our cells so as to enable the production of individual antigens. By synthesizing mRNA and transporting it into cells, scientists can instruct the body to manufacture certain proteins which, in their capacity as antigens, would trigger an immune response.

Example

In the case of CureVac’s vaccine candidate CVnCoV, the mRNA is encoded for the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Importantly, when an mRNA vaccine is injected into a patient, the mRNA does not enter the cell nucleus. What is more, single-stranded RNA is not compatible with double-stranded DNA. In other words, the vaccine cannot alter our genetic material. Scientists confirm this, including those from the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, which is responsible for approving vaccines in Germany.

Partnership Between CureVac and Wacker Biotech

As an experienced CDMO (Contract and Development Manufacturing Organization) in the field of vaccine production, WACKER signed an agreement with vaccine manufacturer CureVac in November 2020 to provide support in the manufacture of CVnCov, an mRNA-based vaccine candidate intended to combat Covid-19.

Based on this agreement, production of the vaccine’s active ingredient is to begin at Wacker Biotech’s site in Amsterdam as soon as CureVac has received approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). It is then planned to produce up to 100 million vaccine doses per year from mid-2021. Our Amsterdam site offers promising expansion options to further boost annual production capacity if required.

After all, we will need billions of doses to rein in the global pandemic. We won’t be able to get Covid-19 properly under control until as many people as possible around the globe are vaccinated. The race for available production capacity is well underway. If the need arises, WACKER is at the ready to create additional capacity for the production of mRNA-based vaccines in the European Union.

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Wacker Biotech – The Lowdown

As a CDMO (contract development and manufacturing organization), Wacker Biotech pools the WACKER Group’s biopharmaceutical activities. The company works on behalf of pharmaceutical and biotech firms to make therapeutic proteins, live microbial products (LMPs), plasmid DNA and vaccines based on microbial systems. Its portfolio extends from strain/process development and analytical testing through to production for clinical and commercial applications in compliance with good manufacturing practice (GMP) guidelines. Wacker Biotech maintains four production sites: Jena and Halle in Germany (Wacker Biotech GmbH), Amsterdam in the Netherlands (Wacker Biotech B.V.) as well as San Diego in the USA (Wacker Biotech US).

Background

Its Amsterdam site has been producing vaccines for clinical development and commercial supply for 20 years. The portfolio ranges from conventional live and killed vaccines to protein-based, polysaccharide and glycoconjugate vaccines. In recent months, WACKER has invested in the site and made preparations to extend production to include mRNA-based vaccines. This new class of vaccines expands the broad vaccine portfolio Wacker Biotech offers to its customers.