Sheffield to lead £7.6 million UK-South East Asia Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub

A new vaccine manufacturing hub will improve vaccine access for diseases such as dengue and hand, foot and mouth disease in South East Asia.

Tuck Seng Wong stood outside the Sir Frederick Mappin building
Professor Tuck Seng Wong

A new vaccine manufacturing hub designed to address current and future pandemics/epidemics in South East Asia is to be led by University of Sheffield researchers.

The hub aims to enable fair and timely access of affordable and high-quality vaccines in South East Asia. These vaccines will target dengue, hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), tuberculosis, rabies and hepatitis, with the Hub focusing on three vaccine types: protein, mRNA and viral vector.

In order to accomplish this, the hub will create a vaccine manufacturing network in South East Asia that is both sustainable and adaptable i.e. able to respond to unexpected events such as an outbreak. It will also diversify vaccine manufacturing geographically to meet local demands in South East Asia.

This research project is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the UK Vaccine Network (UKVN), a UK Aid programme to develop vaccines for diseases with epidemic potential in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The Hub is a consortium of four UK universities (Sheffield, Cambridge, York and Kent) and eleven partners based in South East Asia, covering five countries (Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia).

It also builds upon an existing relationship between the University of Sheffield and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. The two signed a Memorandum Of Understanding in January 2023 to strengthen their collaboration in learning and teaching and research and development - an agreement spearheaded by Sheffield’s Professor Tuck Seng Wong and Benjamin Short.

Professor Wong, who is a Professor of Biomanufacturing in the University’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, is to be Director of the new UK-South East Asia Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub. Professor Kiat Ruxrungtham from the Chula Vaccine Research Centre, Chulalongkorn University, is to be Co-Director.

The University of Sheffield is well known for its vaccine manufacturing research, having won grant awards for projects including the Gene Therapy Innovation and Manufacturing Centre led by Professor Mimoun Azzouz.

The University has also previously been awarded funding as part of the Wellcome Leap R3 project, enabling the creation of an mRNA vaccine production unit at the University that will develop the new manufacturing processes that researchers and manufacturers need to deploy new mRNA vaccines and treatments. This project is led by the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering’s Dr. Zoltan Kis. 

On the new UK-South East Asia Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub, Professor Wong said:  “We're thrilled to join forces with our South East Asian colleagues to bring about equitable access to quality-assured vaccines, ultimately making a profound global health impact.”

The full list of partners in the Hub are:

  • KinGen Biotech (Vaccine manufacturer, Thailand)
  • Baiya Phytopharm (Vaccine manufacturer, Thailand)
  • Pharmaniaga (Vaccine manufacturer, Malaysia)
  • Solution Biologics (Vaccine manufacturer, Malaysia)
  • Duopharma Biotech (Vaccine manufacturer, Malaysia)
  • Malaysia Genome and Vaccine Institute (National research institute, Malaysia)
  • Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (Governmental agency, the Philippines)
  • University of the Philippines Manila (University, the Philippines)
  • Pasteur Institute – Ho Chi Minh City (National research institute, Vietnam)
  • Bandung Institute of Technology (University, Indonesia)   

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