Rotorua-based research institute Scion has joined forces with the Covid-19 Vaccine Corporation (CVC) in the hunt for New Zealand's own Covid-19 vaccine.
Scion's biotechnology pilot plant is critical to CVC's vaccine development.
The facility will allow CVC to grow its vaccine-producing bacteria at scale, making vaccine materials for testing purposes.
The processing will take place in Scion's Rotorua laboratory.
"Working with Scion will allow CVC to accelerate development and put us on a fast-track towards manufacturing and testing our Covid-19 vaccine," CVC chief scientific officer Dr Andy Herbert said.
"We really appreciate how Dr Lloyd-Jones' team and Scion have moved to expedite our work - it's another example of Kiwis pulling together and doing what they can to fight this dangerous disease."
CVC's intended vaccine differs from other vaccine candidates for its unique biobead technology that it licensed from New Zealand company Polybatics.
It is currently working towards making small volumes of these vaccine-producing bacteria at the University of Auckland.
Its method includes making biobeads coated with carefully chosen components of the SARS-Cov-2 virus. The biobeads and coating are simultaneously manufactured inside bacteria which is an efficient method of production for a vaccine that the company expects to be both safe while offering broad immune coverage in humans.
These biobeads are grown at scale and purified at Scion's specialised facility, where they will be produced as a test vaccine suitable for various testing purposes.
"Scion is delighted to assist in the development of CVC's Covid-19 vaccine," Scion science leader bio transformation Dr Gareth Lloyd-Jones said.
"With our fermentation capability and expertise in producing customised bio polymers, the Scion team will be able to produce vaccine materials for preclinical testing.
"Scion has experience in producing bio plastic materials that are the main component of Polybatics' biobeads technology that CVC is adapting for vaccine production."
If testing is successful, CVC will manufacture more biobead vaccines for human trials using good manufacturing practice, which requires stringent and traceable protocols.
CVC's partners include the University of Auckland, Fonterra, Callaghan Innovation, Ardigen, and now Scion.