UK-based gene and cell therapy group Oxford BioMedica has partnered with non-profit Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) for the manufacturing of viral vector-based vaccines.

Oxford Biomedica and VMIC are members of the Oxford University manufacturing consortium formed to scale-up the production of Covid-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222.

AstraZeneca is responsible for the manufacturing, development and distribution of the vaccine candidate globally. Last month, the pharmaceutical giant signed an initial clinical and commercial supply agreement with Oxford Biomedica for several batches.

Under the latest five-year collaboration agreement, VMIC will supply manufacturing equipment for two new manufacturing suites at Oxford Biomedica’s 7,800m2 commercial manufacturing centre, Oxbox, in Oxford, UK.

This is expected to significantly bolster manufacturing capacity and allow further scale-up of AZD1222 to meet the UK and European demand.

In addition, these suites may also be used for other viral vector vaccine candidates.

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Oxford Biomedica CEO John Dawson 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.”

As part of the collaboration, Oxford Biomedica agreed to provide training and technical assistance to VMIC staff. This is meant to improve the operational readiness and manufacturing capabilities for viral vector vaccine candidates at VMIC’s new manufacturing site at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

The VMIC facility is scheduled to open during the middle of next year, 12 months ahead of schedule.

Furthermore, the collaboration agreement will allow the partners to expand their partnership to include commercial-scale manufacturing capacity of other viral vector vaccine candidates for people in the UK.