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HI³ Collaboration Hub

The HI³ Collaboration Hub is a service to connect hub members with each other. The service helps to identify project synergies and establish collaborations. Please fill out the Project submission form clearly outlining your project proposal and the type of partners with whom you would like to connect . Once approved, we'll post your listing as soon as possible.

Visit the Collaboration Hub often to see if any of the posted project proposals align with your own research ideas and plans!

Researcher profile

Valerie Ward
Assistant Professor - Microalgae Biomanufacturing Lab
University of Waterloo

Project information

Project name: Cross pandemic preparedness: a universal flexible biomanufacturing system
Project area: Biomanufacturing and synthetic biology
Project idea: One of the major challenges in biomanufacturing is that no single process can produce any biomolecule of interest. Current practices use bacteria for producing many therapeutic proteins or biochemical reagents needed for mRNA vaccine production, while mammalian cell culture is used for more complex products like monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and virus antigens (e.g., the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein) needed as treatments or diagnostics. As a result of this gap, each product is made using a unique process. Integrating upstream strain engineering with downstream process development, we can create a universal biomanufacturing system that can be used to rapidly produce molecules of interest in the event of a global pandemic. The proposed research will focus on addressing the current challenges of each type of host system (e.g. bacteria, algae, cell culture) to create different products of interest (mAbs, protein reagents, plasmid DNA for mRNA production, virus like particles, viral vectors, etc.) limiting their integration into one universal manufacturing process. The resulting system will be a flexible biomanufacturing suite that can be quickly sourced and replicated using single-use technologies for a rapid response in future pandemics. Cells lines that can be readily engineered with a variety of products of interest will be developed and widely shared to remove location barriers during potential lock-downs and enable the fastest response possible. This project will demonstrate that flexible biomanufacturing is possible and that this approach will enable Canada to rapidly respond to future pandemics. This technology will also serve to accelerate biomanufacturing and pharmaceutical development in Canada by providing an easily accessible single use technology that can be used for any host system and product.

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Partner type(s):
  • Academic
  • Community partners
  • Government
  • Industry
  • Non-profit
  • Training
Partner type details: This project hopes to develop a single flexible biomanufacturing process that can be replicated in single-use technologies to enable rapid response in a pandemic, but also enable greater ease of use and access to a biomanufacturing system for any one needing to produce a biomolecule of interest. The aim is to do small scale, but highly productive continuous biomanufacturing. We are looking for a partner to potentially address the regulatory compliance of such a system for example. We are also looking for industry partners willing to either produce a single-use version of the system. We are also looking for other academics who have developed possible products they would like to make in the flexible biomanufacturing system we will develop.