Less than an hour northeast of Boston, New England Biolabs (NEB) keeps expanding in Ipswich, MA. Just 15 minutes away in a new 43,000 ft2 facility in Rowley, MA, NEB manufactures GMP-grade reagents that are used by their customers for manufacturing mRNA.

“These reagents are manufactured under more rigorous conditions and can be used for the manufacture of therapeutic vaccines, for example,” says Breton Hornblower, portfolio manager, regulated markets at NEB. “This is a growing market with far-reaching implications, including lots of uses in developing cancer therapeutics.”

That’s, of course, in addition to the mRNA-related vaccines that were tested and approved for COVID-19. From COVID-19 to cancer and more, Hornblower says, “the reagents that we’re supplying fit nicely into all of those workflows.”

The availability of GMP-grade reagents is crucial for mRNA manufacturing. “From a pharmaceutical bioprocessor’s perspective, these reagents make life easier by providing reagents at these very high-quality levels,” Hornblower explains.

This advance by NEB emerges from the company’s long-term production of RNA-related reagents.

“We’ve been building the RNA-synthesis and RNA-modifying enzymes portfolios for many, many years,” Hornblower says. “When we went to GMP-grade, we wanted the exact same formats available at this higher quality level, so people could start with our catalog reagents, develop and iterate on them, and then have a clear path to production, where they don’t need to change suppliers.”

In addition to catalog options in RNA reagents, NEB goes farther. “Historically, we’ve been primarily a catalog-based company, but we do have a lot of experience in co-development projects and custom projects for companies,” Hornblower notes. “As a whole, I would say this customer area continues to grow.”

Given the recent applications of mRNA in therapeutics and the likely advances ahead, this entire market is likely to grow even more and save many lives.

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