A global center to create mRNA-like therapy for the next pandemic is on the horizon. The new center will concentrate on quickly developing, testing, and commercializing new therapies within months of a pandemic outbreak.
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To create a drug advancement similar in nature to mRNA vaccine technology for upcoming pandemics, the Australian government recently declared the launch of a new therapeutic research center in Melbourne.
Geoffrey Cumming, an Australian philanthropist, accelerated the development with a $250 million ($US171 million) donation, the biggest single clinical research donation in Australian history.
In honor of the Canadian and New Zealander businessman, the facility will be known as the Cumming Global Centre for Pandemic Therapeutics.
“We aim to create solutions to minimise the impact of future pandemics and create greater global resiliency in the decades ahead,” Cumming said in a statement.
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The government has also made a significant contribution, allocating $1.3 billion in funding for medical research since 2014, which would include $75 million for the Cumming Global Centre.
It also just acquired Melbourne as the site of Moderna’s first mRNA vaccine production facility outside of North America.
The new center will concentrate on quickly developing, testing, and commercializing new therapies within months of a pandemic outbreak, according to the benefactor, the University of Melbourne, which also has plans to hire international experts.
“The University of Melbourne thanks Geoff Cumming for his incredibly generous donation, and the Victorian government for its contribution to pandemic therapeutic research,” the University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Prof. Duncan Maskell said.
“If a therapeutic drug had been available at scale in July 2020, in line with COVID-19 vaccine approval, it could have prevented millions of deaths globally.”
The Cumming Global Centre will be led by Prof. Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute.
“The centre will focus on research in emerging, high-potential molecular platforms and to develop new therapeutics with unprecedented speed,” Lewin said.
“We plan to do the hard work of basic science; new technologies that might one day be the mRNA of therapeutics.”
Although researchers will initially concentrate on developing treatments for coronaviruses and influenza, they will also work to develop “platform technologies” that are similar to mRNA.
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The CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, also recently published a report to improve the country’s preparedness for potential infectious-disease outbreaks.
Coronaviridae with COVID-19, MERS, and SARS being examples, Flaviviridae (e.g. Japanese encephalitis), Orthomyxoviridae (e.g. influenza), Paramyxoviridae (e.g. Nipah virus), and Togaviridae (e.g. Chikungunya fever).
The Cumming Global Centre will be centered at first at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity prior to actually moving to the new Australian Institute for Infectious Diseases (AIID) in 2027.