Empowering researchers to develop genetic medicines

ATA Scientific Pty Ltd
Monday, 18 October, 2021


As we move from an absolute zero COVID-19 case load in Australia to being relatively swamped by the Delta variant, also advancing rapidly across the world, we are looking for a light out of this tunnel.

Many of Australia’s brightest researchers have rallied to build a genetic medicine ecosystem that will enhance our sovereign capacity to manufacture locally. Extremely important advances have been made in funding such facilities, where we will soon see vaccines and treatments for not just COVID but a myriad of other infectious diseases and cancer.

There is a central puzzle piece common to all this research and that is the Precision Nanosystems NanoAssemblr, a platform of technologies designed to encapsulate a drug or genetic material. Using advanced microfluidics in an automated system, the NanoAssemblr removes batch-to-batch and user-to-user variability. Formulations are easily scalable from 1 mL to ultimately full GMP manufacture.

The most ubiquitous of the NanoAssemblr range is the Ignite, a research-level system where a drug product is produced by adhering to the unit process steps necessary for clinical manufacturing. Ignite simplifies the transition into clinical programs by incorporating these fundamental process steps for scale-up in the earliest stages of pre-clinical development. Years of research in Australia is paying off where we are on the precipice of a stream of drug candidates ready to scale.

Recently the team from the McMillan/Morris lab at Griffith University published an exciting opportunity for a COVID treatment1 encapsulating their siRNA in a Lipid Nanoparticle (LNP) using the NanoAssemblr Ignite. Queensland is home to several other drug candidates heading into the clinic soon. Unfortunately, some are going offshore whilst we build our local capacity.

Figure 1. For a larger image, click here.

Ignite’s ability to empower genetic medicine advancement was recently witnessed when Prof Colin Pouton and his team at Monash University progressed from their Ignite to their newly acquired NanoAssemblr Blaze.3 The group is now ready to take their mRNA LNP candidate for a COVID vaccine to phase 1 clinical trial. It was exciting to see Prof Pouton explain his vaccine concept during the BioForum2 recently. This forum was made possible by the BioMelbourne Network with mRNA Victoria as collaborators for the event, plus sponsor the Victoria State Government Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and the speakers — the Hon Jaala Pulford, Prof Pouton and Dr Amanda Caples.

The UNSW RNA Institute will be a science, therapeutics and translational facility driving cross-disciplinary approaches to global challenges in RNA chemistry, biology and medicine. In partnership with NSW Health, UNSW will also lead the NSW RNA Production and Research Network. This network brings together four universities — The University of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney, Macquarie University and The Australian National University — plus several medical institutes and hospital-based facilities with the UNSW RNA Institute, to enable an RNA community of practice in NSW/ACT.4 This builds on the awesome work of Professor Maria Kavallaris’ team at Children’s Cancer Institute, where they are making huge advances with their NanoAssemblr Spark and Ignite.

ATA Scientific supplies instruments to the medical research industry; we are immersed in vaccine research, genetic medicine, COVID treatment research and so much more. We are proud to play our small part in Australia’s response. Please contact Peter Davis at pdavis@atascientific.com.au for further information or to book a demonstration of the incredible NanoAssemblr.

References
  1. A SARS-CoV-2 targeted siRNA-nanoparticle therapy for COVID-19, Molecular Therapy (2021), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ymthe.2021.05.004
  2. https://biomelbourne.org/bioforum-future-direction-for-mrna-technology-meeting-recording/ Accessed 24 Aug 2021
  3. COVID-19 vaccine machine arrives in Melbourne. 9 News https://www.9news.com.au/videos/national/covid-19-vaccine-machine-arrives-in-melbourne/cksmzjhw1001a0hqhnvpiwrxu Accessed 27 Aug 2021
  4. New UNSW institute to spearhead NSW government drive for RNA research: https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/new-unsw-institute-spearhead-nsw-government-drive-rna-research Accessed 24 Aug 2021

Top image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/natali_mis

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