According to Dutch biopharma firm Batavia, the number of child deaths globally caused by the rotavirus – numbered at 215,000 by the WHO - could be reduced through the production of a cheaper vaccine.
The firm is looking at doing this by adopting more efficient manufacturing processes and has received an $8m grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“[We aim to] reduce facility, equipment and materials costs by using small footprint, highly productive manufacturing equipment and processes to increase vaccine output,” a spokesperson from Batavia told this publication.
The project will incorporate fixed-bed, high cell density single-use bioreactors which we were told challenged more traditional and expensive vessels.
“These are manufacturing systems that can support very high cell concentrations and thus very high vaccine yields. They are small footprint and inexpensive to install and operate compared to current systems resulting in a favorable cost of goods.”
Such systems are commercially available from a number of vendors, but Batavia said it is looking at using the iCellis system from Pall Life Sciences.
The project also hopes to reduce costs by basing the vaccine on the RV3-BB rotavirus strain, a naturally occurring attenuated strain developed by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, which according to Batavia “may have better efficacy in developing countries.”
The vaccine itself will be manufactured by Bio Farm, an Indonesia state-owned vaccine producer and distributor. “Batavia Biosciences will develop the process and implement it at Bio Farma.”
In a statement, Menzo Havenga, CEO of Batavia Biosciences, said: “We are proud to work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Bio Farma on bringing a safe, efficacious and affordable rotavirus vaccine to all in need as this vaccine is clearly long overdue.”