Sanofi partners with Queensland to create the 'mRNA Translational Science Hub'

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Sanofi has announced a significant investment in Queensland with the company a dominant investor in a $280 million five-year mRNA Translational Science Hub with the University of Queensland, Griffith University and the state's government.

The Translational Science Hub will be located across Queensland, utilising the laboratories and infrastructure of the University of Queensland, Griffith University and the Translational Research Institute (TRI). The research is expected to start in early 2023 with an initial focus on a Chlamydia vaccine.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queensland will be the only jurisdiction in Australia to have a centre like this.

“Queensland has some of the best researchers in the world and the Translational Science Hub will give them the platform to develop life-saving vaccines,” she said.

“If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s the importance of local capability rather than relying on global markets.

“We want the world to know that Queensland is where business can come to do science and science can come to do business.”

Sanofi's investment in Queensland follows the recent $352 million agreement between the state's government and Aegros under which the emerging Australian biopharmaceutical company will construct a major research and manufacturing facility.

Viatris has also significantly expanded its presence in Queensland with a co-investment with the federal government increasing its annual production output by one billion tablets.

These investments are the latest in what represents a major reversal of the long-term trend of disinvestment by pharmaceutical and global in Australian research and manufacturing.

Since the pandemic's start, CSL and Moderna have also announced major investments in Australia.

Deputy Premier and the Minister for State Development Steven Miles said, “The Translational Science Hub is a game-changer that very few jurisdictions globally are capable of.

“Queensland’s best scientists will work with their global peers in the US and France on ground-breaking mRNA technology and vaccine development.

“The Hub will bring more expertise, supply-chain capabilities, as well as clinical investigations to Queensland.

“We expect it will create up to 200 jobs for Queenslanders and strengthen our biomanufacturing supply chain."

“The Translational Science Hub in Queensland will work closely with the Sanofi mRNA Centre of Excellence in France and the US to accelerate a new era of vaccine innovation,” said the global head of Sanofi vaccine research and development, Dr Jean-Francois Toussaint.

Country lead for Sanofi Australia and New Zealand Karen Hood said the company is thrilled to be basing the hub in Queensland.

“We acknowledge the incredible support and agility the Queensland Government has shown in seizing this exciting and unique opportunity. We are looking forward to our scientists in France and the United States working collaboratively with all partners to chase the miracles of science to improve people’s lives,” she said.

The company's country medical lead Dr Iris Depaz said, “Queensland has some of the best universities for science research and the Queensland Government has a clear vision for investing in the State as a location for knowledge-based high-tech industries. This is why the Translational Science Hub will be located across the Sunshine State."

Sanofi currently undertakes its research in France and the US.

The Vice-Chancellor and President of Griffith University, Professor Carolyn Evans, said it is delighted to be part of the partnership building on the strengths and capabilities of the University's existing biomedical leadership.

“Our researchers are internationally recognised at bringing disease-specific mRNA expertise to developing new vaccines and therapies while our Clinical Trial Unit is a leader in testing safety and efficacy. We look forward to the work we undertake here in Queensland making a difference to global health outcomes,” said Professor Evans.

University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor, Professor Deborah Terry, said the partnership builds on a commitment to bring the latest technologies to UQ’s internationally recognised vaccine and drug development programs.

“The pivot to mRNA technologies was accelerated during the pandemic and UQ has invested in both the people and facilities to ensure mRNA for pre-clinical research can be developed and produced in Queensland,” said Professor Terry.

“Collaboration and partnership are at the heart of all great research and we look forward to making a difference to global health in collaboration with our partners.”