Univercells part of Gates-backed group trying to cut polio vaccine cost

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has granted Univercells $12m (€12.5m) to develop a vaccine manufacturing platform that lowers production costs.

The firm and consortium partners Batavia Biosciences and Natrix Separations have been tasked with radically lowering costs and increasing vaccine availability and affordability in developing countries.

The project will combine Natrix’s chromatography membranes, Batavia’s production capabilities and Univercells’ manufacturing platform, which uses small footprint bioreactors capable of sustaining high cell density cultures.

Univercells told us “This compact design allows significant savings in consumables and operating cost, but also in facility design and construction costs, as the footprint and utilities required to operate this platform are drastically reduced.

“This allows our new platform to manufacture viral vaccines doses at a fraction of the current COGS, with a productivity of 40 million doses per year, and can be adapted to any viral vaccine.”

The Belgian firm told us the first tech transfer to Batavia’s manufacturing site is due to be completed in November 2018.

According to the Gates Foundation, the initial target is to establish a micro-facility for the production of inactivated polio vaccine (sIPV).

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