Researchers help Thailand produce its own vaccines and biopharmaceuticals

Researchers at the University are leading a project to help Thailand and neighbouring South East Asian countries develop their own advanced medicines and vaccines.

The project is part of the UK government-funded £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which was announced in 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by Official Development Assistance (ODA) recipient countries.

Professor Colin Robinson and Professor Mark Smales  of the School of Biosciences are working with UK and Thai partners to help Thailand produce live-saving biopharmaceuticals on a large scale.

As well as medicines for the treatment of major human diseases, their team is also working to produce a suite of high value veterinary vaccines against major porcine diseases with reduced manufacturing costs, which should result in a reduction in livestock losses.

The £4.8 million project will also seek to establish a state-of-the-art technical capacity for Thai groups to produce their own recombinant proteins.

As well as Thailand, it is planned to give neighbouring South East Asian countries access to the programme’s technology and expertise so they can plan similar ventures.

As part of this, the British Embassy in Bangkok hosted a ‘showcase event’ for the consortium on November 28, with over 100 delegates attending from a range of South East Asian institutions and companies.

Professor Robinson said: ‘This programme is all about working with groups in Thailand and enabling them to develop their own production technologies. Here at Kent we have the cutting-edge expertise that can help Thai groups become self-sufficient in the vital area of advanced medicines and vaccines.’

The University of Kent has always thought creatively about how to tackle key global issues. Consequently, it has been a key beneficiary of the GCRF since it began, with two major projects currently underway, the second being to build partnerships and help develop capacity in research, policy and public impacts at the top-level higher education institutions in eastern Europe and central Asia.

It is fully committed to supporting capacity building in ODA-compliant countries and for its research to be used for their benefit.