Professor Imre Berger, Director of the Max Planck-Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology at the University of Bristol visited Vabiotech in Hanoi, Vietnam this week as part of an ongoing initiative to share state-of-the-art vaccine technology with developing countries.
Vabiotech and the University are partners in the Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub (FVMR Hub), a collaborative initiative led by Imperial College London and supported by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council).
"While rapidly developing countries, such as Vietnam, have an impressive capacity to manufacture vaccines tailored to local needs, this has historically been hampered by a lack of access to the cutting-edge innovations in vaccine technology we specialise in here in the UK" said Professor Berger. "Our aim in working with Vabiotech is to share knowledge that will aid and expedite the development of next-generation vaccines specifically for deployment in Vietnam."
Scientists from Vabiotech are being trained by Professor Berger and his team in MultiBac, a powerful recombinant production technology the Berger team pioneered. MultiBac is uniquely suited for producing novel vaccines in large quantities in insect cells that can be easily cultured at low cost. The objective is to master the MultiBac technique and implement the technology in large-scale biofermenters in Vietnam.
Together with Vabiotech and supported by the FVMR Hub, Professor Berger is targeting the use of MultiBac towards the production of vaccines for pandemic (avian) influenza, as well as rabies and other pathogens.
“Vabiotech is particularly interested in using MultiBac to produce vaccines to combat avian flu. We saw a few years ago how quickly avian flu, which began in Vietnam, developed into a global threat for humans.” explained Professor Berger “While the threat of avian flu in Vietnam still looms, deployment of a suitable vaccine could therefore help prevent future pandemics."
Dr Do Dat Tuan, President and Director General of Vabiotech, said: "As Vietnam’s leading manufacturer of vaccines, our aim is to prevent, eliminate and gradually eradicate dangerous infectious diseases. We are therefore delighted to welcome Professor Berger to Vabiotech, and we look forward to utilising their ground-breaking technology in the manufacture of future vaccines for Vietnam."
Professor Berger was joined on the visit by Dr Erik Lithander, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement) along with other senior University colleagues.
It is part of a week of meetings and events in Vietnam with universities and organisations across three cities (Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh city) to forge new connections as well as building on existing research partnerships.
Dr Lithander said: "As a University we are committed to building strategic connections and relationships around the world. We see real potential here in Vietnam to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with a variety of esteemed universities and organisations."