Towards the more accessible production of messenger RNA


By entering into a commercial partnership, two biotech companies, one from Wallonia and one from Flanders, are undertaking to produce this new technology, which is the basis for COVID-19 vaccines, at a lower cost and on a global scale.

The first company is Quantoom Biosciences, a subsidiary focused on innovations and recently created by Univercells, a biotechnology company based in Charleroi. The second is eTheRNA Immunotherapies, a biotech based near Antwerp, founded in 2013 by Professor Kris Thielemans as a spin-off of the VUB.

Together, these two companies have just signed an ambitious partnership to produce messenger RNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) at a lower cost. This new technology is based on a transient copy of a portion of DNA corresponding to one or more genes and is used by the cells as an intermediate for protein synthesis. Many prospects for curing various diseases, such as cancers, are now possible, as the success of coronavirus vaccines is attempting to demonstrate.

In practical terms, based on the use of less expensive alternative ingredients, future RNA will be produced in small modular RNA units that can be easily dispatched to several geographical areas.

This would also make this promising technology accessible to the world's poorest countries.