The University of Manchester has received $500,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a low cost manufacturing route to Molnupiravir, a promising antiviral drug for the treatment of COVID-19, in order to widen access of the medicine to lower-income countries.
Researchers from The University of Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), led by Professor Nicholas Turner, Dr Sarah Lovelock and Professor Anthony Green, have developed an efficient biocatalytic manufacturing route to Molnupiravir. Experimental work was led by Dr Ashleigh Burke who developed a new enzyme, cytidine aminotransferase, to allow the production of a key Molnupiravir intermediate.
The unique approach of the Manchester team is currently being further developed with industrial partners at multi-Kg scale to enable adoption by generic pharmaceutical manufacturers at large scale.
Professor Anthony Green said: “We are hopeful that our work will contribute to the challenge of developing a low-cost manufacturing route to Molnupiravir to allow the widest possible access to this promising COVID-19 therapy.”
The research undertaken by The University of Manchester team has been published as open-access to allow pharmaceutical manufacturers around the world to take advantage of this development.
Sterling Pharma Solutions, a pharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO), has been engaged to support scale-up development and manufacturing activities utilising the novel enzyme developed by the Manchester team. Sterling’s CEO, Kevin Cook, said: “We are incredibly proud to be working in partnership will all those involved to help improve global access to what looks to be a very promising, life-saving treatment.”
In order to maximise the impact of the new enzyme technology, Prozomix Ltd, a biocatalyst discovery and contract manufacturing organisation (CMO), will employ foundation funds to produce high-quality cytidine aminotransferase and distribute it globally free-of-charge. Any company can obtain a sample by emailing Molnupiravir@prozomix.com.
Prozomix’s Managing Director, Professor Simon Charnock, said: “Establishing a new and widely employable biocatalytic route for an API has arguably never been as urgent, we feel most privileged to play our part in this collaboration.”