New mRNA network to accelerate clinical translation

Monday, 06 November, 2023

New mRNA network to accelerate clinical translation

Moderna has launched the mRNA Platform Incubator Network, an initiative in collaboration with key Australian organisations with specialist expertise in translational and pharmaceutical science, early phase clinical trials and regulatory science.

The initiative aims to advance mRNA medicine, foster scientific excellence in clinical translation in Australia and further the therapeutic potential of the mRNA platform. It brings together researchers from Monash University and Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS), the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity — a joint venture of The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Murdoch Research Children’s Institute and Doherty Clinical Trials Limited.

Moderna’s Regional Research Centre in Melbourne will serve as a hub for the Platform Incubator Network with an aim to enable regular cross-functional collaboration, exploration and execution of translational research projects, contributing new insights to the broader scientific and regulatory community through publications and discussions and supporting development of the next generation of researchers.

Examples of how the Network intends to pool its collective knowledge include the development of scientific strategies to overcome specific clinical platform challenges and oversee operational implementation of these strategies through non-clinical and computational quantitative pharmacology investigations, as well as translational clinical trials, led from Australia.

“The Incubator Network will catalyse needed advancements in the mRNA clinical pharmacology and translational knowledgebase to further unlock the therapeutic potential of the mRNA platform and will help position Australia as leaders in mRNA clinical translation. We’re excited to contribute to the growth of this vibrant scientific community and look forward to the groundbreaking innovations our collaboration will bring,” said Uli Frevert, MD, Head of Translational Clinical Trials, Moderna USA.

The Platform Incubator Network follows the launch of the Monash-Moderna mRNA Quantitative Pharmacology Accelerator (MMQPA) earlier this year. The program, a partnership between Moderna and Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, represents the inaugural accelerator established under Moderna’s Regional Research Centre and will focus on using quantitative pharmacology to accelerate mRNA medicines development.

University of Melbourne’s Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, said many researchers at the Doherty Institute, a joint venture of The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital, are working with the technology to find ways to tackle infectious diseases, such as HIV-1, malaria and COVID-19, of course.

“It has the potential to solve some of the world’s biggest health problems, and by bringing together the brightest minds and harnessing the potential of mRNA technology, we are well-positioned to make significant strides in clinical translation and realise the full therapeutic potential of mRNA,” Lewin said.

Professor Andrew Steer, Theme Director of Infection, Immunity and Global Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, said, “MCRI is excited by the potential of the mRNA Platform Incubator Network to contribute to innovative solutions for key health challenges that affect children and adolescents. This network could lead to the development of an mRNA vaccine that provides long-term immune protection against common infections in children such as those caused by the Strep A bacteria, which can develop into rheumatic heart disease if not treated properly. This is an unmet public health challenge with rates of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease among Indigenous populations in northern Australia some of the highest in the world.”

Dr Andrew Brockway, Doherty Clinical Trials Limited CEO, said the collaboration is a significant step forward in the realm of mRNA medicine research right here in Australia, and “we’re proud to contribute our expertise in infectious disease clinical trials to help accelerate the translation of mRNA research into practical, life-changing applications. This network of experts has the potential to drive real-world solutions that can improve healthcare outcomes and will be contributing to meaningful medical advancements globally, which is exactly why Doherty Clinical Trials was established.”

Image credit: Phuchom

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