Canada announces funding for advancements in mRNA vaccine technology at University of British Columbia

Funding of $11.1 million for two UBC projects that will improve pathogen response and boost the impact of BC biotechnology on the global stage

October 3, 2022 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Pacific Economic Development Canada

British Columbians continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether at home, at work, or in their community. Throughout the pandemic, science has provided the greatest defense, particularly through mRNA vaccines. These vaccines trigger the body’s immune response to help protect against infection and severe illness.

Today, the Honorable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister for International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan), announced over $11.1 million in funding through PacifiCan for the University of British Columbia (UBC) to undertake two new projects to enhance the delivery and efficacy of mRNA vaccines.

The first of these two complementary projects is receiving $3.5 million in PacifiCan support. It aims to optimize how mRNA vaccines are administered on a cellular level, improving uptake into the body. This will reduce potential side-effects of mRNA vaccines, improve their efficacy and allow for a smaller vaccine dosage. Research conducted through this project will help to streamline the production of existing mRNA vaccines and inform the development of future medicines across the globe.

The second project, with $7.6 million in PacifiCan support, aims to identify and address new COVID-19 variants before they can spread. Through studying existing variants at the molecular level, researchers will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict and develop mRNA vaccine treatments for potential future pathogens. This project will enable a nimble, home-grown response to emerging COVID-19 variants, helping to protect Canadians, and further solidify BC as a leader in the biotechnology sector.

Investing in the health and safety of all Canadians is a key priority for the Government of Canada. In British Columbia, PacifiCan is committed to advancing the research and commercialization of life-saving biotechnology, supporting the regional economy, and building pandemic resilience across the globe.

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