Researchers in Australia say they plan to advance a biopolymer particle-based platform technology to develop vaccine candidates to protect against biowarfare threats, including Q Fever, tularemia, and melioidosis.

Health Security Systems Australia (HSSA) is working with Griffith University, including the Australian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory in Geelong, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, the University of Western Australia, and CDMO BioCina on the project.

The two-year funding aims to establish Australia’s capability to rapidly develop and manufacture vaccines against biothreats and emerging infectious diseases at an industrial scale, according to Bernd Rehm, PhD, director of the Center for Cell Factories and Biopolymers at Griffith University’s Institute for Drug Discovery.

This project was identified from an HSSA national call for collaborative proposals in 2022, with funding support from Defense through the Next Generation Technologies Fund. The call focused on key priority themes, including the need for vaccine products or platform technologies for infectious disease threats, which supports HSSA’s mission to develop medical countermeasures that protect military and civilian personnel against chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) threats, emerging infectious diseases, and pandemics.

Engineered bacterial cells

The technology developed at Griffith University uses a platform approach involving engineered bacterial cells to assemble biopolymer particles coated in an immunogenic antigen. The biomanufacturing process has developed multiple precision-engineered vaccine candidates that are effective against pathogens of interest, explained a university spokesperson, who added that the developed platform technology can provide rapid vaccine design and manufacture and overcome critical bottlenecks regarding the speed of response, manufacturability, functionality, and stability.

Bernd Rehm, PhD [Griffith University]
“HSSA’s investment in this project, and the facilitation of a national collaboration, is key to addressing an unmet need for protection against biowarfare threats and infectious diseases in Australia,” noted Rehm. “There are currently no vaccines approved for melioidosis and tularemia, and only one approved vaccine for Q Fever.

“The development and potential manufacture of an innovative vaccine candidate could be made possible by the collaborative network of experts involved in this project.”

“BioCina is honored to be the manufacturing partner for this innovative project, aimed at providing greater sovereign health protection in Australia,” said Mark W. Womack, CEO of BioCina.

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