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Scientists at our state-of-the-art biologics production facility in Melbourne produced and scaled-up The University of Queensland's (UQ) vaccine candidate for COVID-19, which is a specially designed protein.

Professor George Lovrecz and Mylinh La at CSIRO's manufacturing facility for a pilot coronavirus vaccine in Clayton, Melbourne. ©  Scott McNaughton, The Age

This facility is part of the National Biologics Facility, with nodes also located at UQ and University of Technology Sydney and funded under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy scheme, administered by Therapeutic Innovation Australia.

Working with bioengineered mammalian cells, our fermentation biology team produces and scales-up vaccines – from the laboratory to pilot-scale – in line with best practice manufacturing standards.

Our scientists initially focused on a medium-scale (20 litres) production of COVID-19 vaccine candidate for toxicology studies and testing by UQ.

Our team scaled up the vaccine candidate to 50 litres for use in potential clinical trials in hope of fast tracking a vaccine. We also used specialist methods to purify the vaccine candidate co-developed with UQ, to ensure the highest levels of safety.

Fifty litres will be more than enough for phase-I clinical trials and the associated testing.

Should the testing prove successful, our team will produce the vaccine candidate within our specialist facilities using the same equipment and processes that would be used for industrial-scale production.

UQ's COVID-19 vaccine development is being undertaken with support from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and has also received funding from the Federal and Queensland governments. We are pleased to be involved with the scale-up and manufacture of UQ's antigens.

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