Victoria leading on mRNA, the next frontier of medical research

Published: 14 August 2023

A person in a white lab coat and blue gloves filling small tubesMessenger RNA (or mRNA) is best known as the technology behind the successful vaccines for COVID-19 developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.

Since its discovery in the 1960s, medical researchers have explored ways to unlock the potential of the single-stranded mRNA molecule within our cells, exploring how it can be delivered to different parts of the body to help our immune system fight a range of diseases and health conditions.

The success of the COVID-19 vaccines has shown its true potential.

mRNA research

Victoria is home to world-leading medical researchers who have been working with mRNA for decades.

Scientists now see mRNA – and RNA more broadly – as the next frontier in medical research.

This year alone scientists have announced possible mRNA treatments for melanoma and pancreatic cancer.

Developers of one of the COVID-19 vaccines are developing a new '2 in 1' vaccine for influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.

In addition, researchers have created a single-dose mRNA vaccine protecting mice against the plague, a potential game changer in combating bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.

With the support of the Victorian Government, researchers are exploring new mRNA treatments for malaria, Alzheimer's Disease and brain cancer.

mRNA manufacturing

Victoria has been a world-leader in medical research and manufacturing for over 100 years.

The government is building on Victoria’s manufacturing tradition and existing biotechnology capability to build a new industry around the advanced manufacturing of mRNA vaccines and medicines.

This means our researchers’ mRNA breakthroughs can progress through clinical trials to become new medicines for patients – moving from ‘the bench to the bedside’.

With support from the Australian and Victorian Governments, Moderna is building a new mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Clayton, the largest advanced manufacturing project in Australia. Once operational it will produce 100 million vaccine doses per year.

What's next for mRNA?

Monash University, with a $10 million investment from the Victorian Government, will train the mRNA workforce of the future through the Monash Centre for Advanced mRNA Medicines Manufacturing and Workforce Training.

The next chapter in this story is mRNA research, advanced manufacturing, and workforce training with Victoria as the leading location in the Asia-Pacific.