The $28 million facility is housed in the VIDO-InterVac Level 3 containment facility, a unique feature in the country.
The director of the International Center for Research on Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, Volker Gerdts, is delighted with this achievement.
It’s really exciting and gratifying to see that all of this has finally come true and that we will soon be able to manufacture vaccines here.he says.
Gerdts explains that the facility can create any type of vaccine, whether protein subunits, RNA, viral vectors, live or inactive vaccines.
The new development center will make it possible to manufacture vaccines for humans and animals against potentially dangerous viruses, classified up to level 3. Eventually, VIDO-InterVac would like to acquire level 4 status in order to be able to work with the most dangerous.
For the moment, the project is still in pilot mode, which makes it possible to move quickly from research to clinical trials. The research center hopes to have the facility fully operational by the end of next year.
Gerdts, however, clarifies that commercial production is only approved for animal vaccines. For vaccines intended for humans, approval stops at clinical trials, except in an emergency.
VIDO-InterVac will not be a commercial vaccine factoryexplains the director of the center.
We are a research organization. We focus on the production of vaccines that we develop here or those developed by other universities or by small biotechnology companies that cannot afford their own production center.
According to Volker Gerdts, the facility’s goal is to have a 90-100 day turnaround time for vaccines. The maximum production capacity will depend on the technology needed for each vaccine, he points out.
However, the facility could produce 40 million doses of its own COVID-19 vaccine annually, currently in phase 2 clinical trials.
Researchers attracted to the research center
Volker Gerdts welcomes the enthusiasm of several scientists to work at the International Center for Research on Vaccines and Infectious Diseases.
He is delighted that the facility can promote recruitment and attract renowned scientists.
Over the past 15 months, eight other scientists have been hired to work on it, says Gerdts.
For virologist Alyson Kelvin, who has worked in the field of viruses and immunology for twenty years,
the expansion of this facility is the icing on the cake.
Having something that allows us to make a difference, in my own establishment, is probably the most exciting point of my career., Ms. Kelvin said. The latter is also a member of the committee of the World Health Organization in charge of the design of the vaccine against SARS-CoV2.
Researcher Arinjay Banerjee is also excited about the facility’s potential. He is specifically interested in zoonotic viruses transmitted by bats.
” There are coronaviruses in wildlife reservoirs, especially in bats, that could make the jump to humans. »
Mr. Banerjee was working in Toronto during the pandemic. His experience at the University of Saskatchewan and the possibilities presented by pathogens requiring a laboratory with a high level of containment brought him back to Saskatoon.
The vaccine development center was funded through a combined effort of the City of Saskatoon, the Government of Saskatchewan and the federal government.
With information from Sam Maciag