Texas A&M is making headlines this week with the announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has approved a $91 million dollar grant to both the university and their private sector partner GlaxoSmithKline to begin construction on a flu vaccine production facility that will eventually have the capabilities to produce 50 million flu vaccines in just four months. The $91 million dollar grant from the DHHS is merely a down-payment on a long-term federal funding effort that will amount to a billion-dollar effort, which in turn will bring a tremendous amount of new jobs and revenue to the Texas biotech sector.
Speaking yesterday on the announcement, Texas governor Rick Perry said that “The Texas A&M Center, anchored by this facility, is expected to bring more than $41 billion in expenditures within the State of Texas over the next 25 years, and will add more than 6,800 direct and related jobs to Texas.”
Looking for more information about influenza? Read our info page: Influenza: What You Need To Know.
The new “TAMUS” facility will be able to mass produce influenza vaccines in a short amount of time — a much-needed capability that became apparent during the H1N1 epidemic — thanks to a new process that revolutionizes the way in which vaccines are produced. The Tamu Times reports:
The TAMUS influenza vaccines manufacturing center will afford GSK the capabilities to eventually manufacture influenza vaccine based on a proprietary cell-culture line,EB66®. Most existing influenza vaccine is manufactured using fertilized chicken eggs. The cell-culture process will supplement the vaccine supply from eggs, and facilitate a rapid national vaccine response in the event of a pandemic.
GlaxoSmithKline’s participation in this new partnership brings the company’s proven know-how in the production of vaccines. The company currently produces 30 vaccines worldwide, 11 of which have been approved by the FDA. together with Texas A&M’s research, this partnership is seen as a major step forward for developing a national safeguard against future flu epidemics, as well as a tremendous opportunity for the state of Texas.
Read BioNews Texas Editor-in-Chief Mike Nace’s editorial on the new TAMUS facility, Greatbatch’s move to Frisco, and the rapid expansion of the Texas biotech sector.