Three firms to build anti-bioterrorism vaccine plant

UPMC and GE Healthcare to support facility construction by 21CB consortium

Battelle, IBM and Merck & Co have announced a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC) to build a vaccine plant to respond quickly to biological, chemical or radiological threats and bioterrorism.

The three partners in the 21st Century Biodefence (21CB) initiative will support UPMC and GE Healthcare in the construction of this facility, which UPMC will operate in partnership with the US government. The proposed facility will be federally funded and operated as a non-profit subsidiary of UPMC.

‘Through this collaboration, we are poised to deliver the urgently needed advances in vaccine development and manufacturing as recently called for by President Obama in his State of the Union address,’ said Robert Cindrich, UPMC’s chief legal counsel.

Battelle has agreed to provide pre-clinical research and development services, including model development for infectious diseases and evaluations of product safety and efficacy in a Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) environment. These services will support the licensure of new vaccines and therapeutics by the US Food and Drug Administration.

IBM will provide innovative information technology to support manufacturing processes and operations.

Merck has agreed to provide drug development and bioprocess advice as part of a planned consortium of other biopharmaceutical companies.

GE Healthcare will provide manufacturing design and development, as well as production equipment, consumables, and manufacturing processes for the vaccine plant.

The facility will be able to produce multiple vaccines simultaneously and have the ability to switch production quickly from one vaccine to another to respond in a crisis.

UPMC said the initiative would create 1,000 jobs directly and as many as 6,000 indirectly.

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