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Samsung, Biotech Partner on mRNA Vaccine Production

Vaccine vials

(ulleo, Needpix)

24 Nov. 2021. A developer of synthetic RNA products is partnering with Samsung Biologics to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines made with messenger RNA. Financial terms of the agreement between GreenLight Biosciences Inc., a biotechnology company in in Medford, Massachusetts, and Samsung Biologics in Incheon, South Korea were not disclosed.

GreenLight Biosciences produces synthetic ribonucleic acid, or RNA, initially for safer and sustainable pesticides for growers, but also for developers of vaccines and therapeutics in health care. RNA is a nucleic acid that carries instructions from genetic codes in DNA to cells for production of proteins. The company says it uses a cell-free process to produce RNA strands from enzymes programmed like chemical templates. Those enzyme templates deliver nucleotides, the chemical building blocks, for assembly into RNA strands.

GreenLight Bio produces synthetic messenger RNA, or mRNA, used in Covid-19 vaccines and antibody therapies, as well as treatments that generate an immune response to treat disease. The company says it’s developing Covid-19 and influenza vaccines of its own, and treatments for inherited disorders, such as sickle-cell disease. GreenLight says it manufactures mRNA with a faster, less expensive, and more sustainable process than most other biotechnology companies in the field.

Science & Enterprise reported in Aug. 2021 on GreenLight Bio’s merger with Environmental Impact Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, enabling the company to trade its shares on the Nasdaq exchange. The SPAC is also a party to the collaboration agreement.

Blueprint for global Covid-19 vaccine production

Last month, GreenLight Bio reported to investors plans to test its Covid-19 vaccine in an early-stage clinical trial in Africa in the first quarter of 2022. In preclinical studies, says GreenLight, the vaccine produced antibodies exceeding WHO standards, as well as a T-cell response in lab mice. And in separate tests with hamsters, the company says its vaccine protected against morbidity.

In March 2021, GreenLight Bio published a white paper outlining a plan to expand production of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, to provide the needed doses to all regions of the world. The paper calls for seven RNA vaccine manufacturing sites situated so no person on the planet is more than a few days shipping time from a vaccine source. The plants would use a common production process with chemical templates for producing the vaccines, to ensure consistent quality and back-up supply sources. GreenLight estimates the plants could be built for $200 million each. The broad reach and lower cost of vaccines , says the company, would help make Covid-19 into a manageable disease like the flu, rather than a disorder with long-term chronic symptoms or worse.

The deal with Samsung Biologics, says GreenLight Bio, aligns with this vision. Samsung Biologics, a division of the electronics and manufacturing conglomerate, is a contract manufacturer of biologic drugs. Samsung says it’s adding mRNA production capacity to its plant in Songdo, Korea which the company expects to be operational in early 2022. GreenLight says it’s transferring the company’s mRNA production technology to Samsung for vaccine manufacturing.

“There is an urgent need to develop vaccines for the whole world,” said GreenLight CEO Andrey Zarur, in a company statement released through Cision. “Our vaccine trial will open the way to make vaccines that are available to everybody, not just citizens of developed countries.”

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