In the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, a vaccine is a tried-and-true method to prevent the spread of the virus. Several biopharmaceutical companies, including Moderna and Pfizer, have successfully created a vaccine based on messenger RNA (mRNA) that helps people avoid getting the infection. Even if they do contract the disease, it helps them avoid fatal side effects.
Contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) are crucial to the effort of distributing vaccines to more than 7 billion people around the world. The benefits of mRNA vaccines are becoming more and more apparent to researchers, doctors, and patients.
CDMOs like Samsung Biologics can help make these vaccines available to more and more people through manufacturing and distribution. These companies can free up the time and efforts made by pharmaceutical companies by providing services such as fill/finish and cold chain storage.
With the rise of omicron, a powerful variant in the COVID-19 pandemic, mRNA boosters have proven efficient against the spread of the virus. “A booster dose may generate antibodies that target regions of the spike protein that are common to all forms of SARS-CoV-2,” writes The Harvard Gazette.
More Capacity To Take On More mRNA Partners
Samsung Biologics Executive Vice President James Choi told the European Pharmaceutical Review, “The use of mRNA technologies in the production of vaccines in response to COVID-19 has demonstrated the effectiveness and potential of the technology. The capability for mRNA to be easily edited not only makes it the ideal tool to combat viruses that can quickly mutate, but also gives it the potential to be used in the treatment of countless other diseases.”
While mRNA vaccines had been used in the past to vaccinate people against Ebola, they hadn’t been commercially developed in major countries. Researchers determined that lipid nanoparticles protected mRNA and allowed it to enter into cells, leaving the mRNA message intact for the immune system to find and recognize. Biopharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna quickly created an mRNA vaccine to prevent COVID-19 and its spread.
Samsung Biologics took initiative when the company realized the role mRNA would play in the pandemic. As part of its long-term expansion plan, Samsung Biologics has extended its business scope and manufacturing capacity. From raw materials, aseptic fill/finish, including labeling and packaging, and cold chain storage, the CDMO will be ready to provide biopharmaceutical firms end-to-end mRNA vaccine production services by the first half of 2022, when Songdo’s new mRNA DS (drug substance) manufacturing facility is finished.
Construction on Plant 4, called the “Super Plant,” started in November 2020 in Incheon, South Korea, the city where the company has its headquarters. The plant will be the largest biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the world when finished.
In addition, the facility will have a contract development organization (CDO) lab, a quality control (QC) lab, and cold and freezer storage facilities.
Speed and Execution Excellence in mRNA Production
Executive Vice President James Park told online news organization Fierce Biotech, “Our Samsung DNA is all about speed and execution, with quality in mind.”
He explained the company had spent its time manufacturing 47 products for its partners and customers. However, Samsung Biologics remembers who the products are really for — the patients. “Ultimately, it’s for the patients in the world,” said Park. “So, we’re very proud of our execution excellence as well as speed to get the product on the market for our clients and ultimately to the patients.”
Samsung Biologics isn’t waiting for its new locations to be ready to help partners with mRNA vaccines: The company is already working with Moderna and GreenLight Biosciences. “We’re supporting the mRNA production for the global patients by fill/finishing Moderna’s vaccine,” said Park. “We contracted [drug product] services in May 2021, did a tech transfer within three months, and we started manufacturing in September 2021. We’ll continue to manufacture the fill/finish of the drug product, we call it, for the Moderna vaccine.”