New funding puts Viral Vector Manufacturing Facility in winning position

Children’s Medical Research Institute warmly welcomes the NSW Government’s announcement of its allocation in the 2022/23 Budget of $101.4m toward a commercial-scale Viral Vector Manufacturing Facility. This significant investment will greatly advance the ability to treat children with serious genetic diseases.

In addition to funds to build the manufacturing facility, the $101.4 million commitment includes operational funding to accelerate NSW’s commercial-scale viral vector production.

NSW Premier, The Hon Dominic Perrottet announced the Viral Vector Manufacturing Facility funding as part of a total $270m investment toward boosting biomedical research and Med Tech innovation.

CMRI’s Head of Gene Therapy, Professor Ian Alexander, who is involved in the Viral Vector program, said, “This funding is very timely given the explosion of therapeutic possibilities emerging from the gene therapy field. Close to 90% of these therapies require viral vector manufacture to reach human clinical trials and beyond.”

Head of CMRI’s Translational Vectorology Unit, Associate Professor Leszek Lisowski, said, “The real work starts now, and this funding from the NSW Government puts us in a winning position.’’

A vector is a microscopic tool used to deliver healthy copies of genes to patients’ tissues and organs, or to deliver the ability to correct the genetic error at its source. While the technology is developing rapidly, the ability to produce high-quality (clinical grade) vectors has been a roadblock until now.

NSW is at the forefront of international gene therapy research through the pioneering work of researchers at CMRI and their colleagues in the Luminesce Alliance of paediatric research organisations. The availability of clinical-grade viral vector production capability in Australia, located next door to CMRI, will accelerate the ability to translate CMRI’s research into the clinic – as potential cures for serious genetic diseases affecting children.

This Viral Vector Manufacturing Facility located in the Westmead Health and Innovation Precinct is a collaboration between NSW Treasury, Investment NSW, and various NSW Health entities, including Health Infrastructure, Office of Health and Medical Research, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network and with support from Children’s Medical Research Institute and Western Sydney Local Health District.

The NSW Government’s $270m funding package also includes $143.3 m for the Sydney Biomedical Accelerator at Camperdown and $25.6 m for advanced therapies such as CAR T-cell therapies for cancer.

CMRI’s Director, Professor Roger Reddel, welcomed all of this news and thanked the NSW Government and the Ministry of Health for its commitment to making lifesaving treatments available to the people of this State as early as possible.

“We are in the early phases of a revolution in medical technology that will make it possible to treat and even cure serious diseases, especially of children, that currently have no or very limited treatment options. This is already happening for a small number of inherited diseases, and there is enormous potential to extend this technology further to benefit children and adults with many more inherited diseases and other diseases such as cancer. The major investment announced by the NSW Government is a critically important step towards making this a reality,” Prof Reddel said.

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