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Production of COVID-19 vaccine gets boost from Finland

Producing therapeutic proteins in the thermothelomyces heterothallica fungal strain has the potential to speed up and lower the cost of medicine and vaccine development.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Biotech company Dyadic International and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have reported making strides in developing a production platform for therapeutic proteins in a fungal strain that has the potential to deliver medicines – including a coronavirus vaccine – to the public sooner and more affordably.

The method is based on exploiting a strain called thermothelomyces heterothallica and nicknamed C1. The filamentous strain is not only extremely robust and efficient in producing enzymes and other proteins, but also capable of producing glycans – chain-like structures of single-sugar molecules – similar to those in humans, thus facilitating the glycoengineering effort.

The focus of the three-year collaborative project has recently shifted to developing a new production method for a coronavirus vaccine.

“We are at the right time in history to disrupt the biological production of healthcare for vaccine and drugs, and it couldn’t have come at a better time because COVID-19 came,” saidMark A. Emalfarb, the CEO at Dyadic International.

“We are doing our best work with as many players around the globe to make sure we can help to eradicate this horrific disease and prolong life and reduce pain and suffering in the process.”

The biopharmaceutical industry is currently producing therapeutic proteins mostly in an epithelial cell line derived from the ovaries of Chinese hamsters, cost- and time-intensively. The C1 strain has great potential to become a game-changing platform for the production of therapeutic proteins, estimated VTT.

By: Aleksi Teivainen