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German biotechnology company BioNTech, which developed the Covid-19 vaccine marketed by Pfizer, will develop the drugs and vaccines using mRNA technology in the Har Hotzvim technology park in Jerusalem in cooperation with Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University and setting up a vaccine plant in Jerusalem. It will also set up a research center at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot.

BioNTech and the Weizmann Institute of Science (“Weizmann Institute”) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). As part of this MoU, scientists from a variety of disciplines from BioNTech and the Weizmann Institute will collaborate in basic and applied research with the aim of better understanding various diseases, including cancer, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. The joint research will be conducted at BioNTech’s newly established mRNA Excellence Center and in Weizmann Institute laboratories.

The MoU supports BioNTech’s long-term strategy to discover, research, and develop innovative vaccines and therapies for diseases with high unmet medical needs. BioNTech’s mRNA Excellence Center will be based within the Weizmann Science Park in Ness Ziona, where BioNTech intends to lease office and laboratory space. The center is expected to provide space for approximately 60 researchers to facilitate collaboration among various fields, including life science, computer science, mathematics, physics, and chemistry. BioNTech expects the center to start operations by the end of 2023.

Jerusalem Mayor BioNTech revealed at the Mind The Tech conference in London that the German company BioNTech SE, developer of the coronavirus vaccine together with Pfizer, signed an agreement with the municipality to establish a factory for the development and production of mRNA vaccines in Jerusalem.

BioNTech has signed the agreement regarding the vaccine plant with the Jerusalem municipality, the Foreign Trade Administration in the Ministry of the Economy, and the Jerusalem Development Authority. The plant will be set up at the Har-Hotzvim Hi-Tech Park in northwest Jerusalem and it will be built within two to three years on 28 dunams of land already allocated for the project. It is expected to employ between 200 and 300 people. As far as state support is concerned, BioNTech will be entitled to the benefits given to companies setting up biomedical or high-tech factories in Jerusalem, but probably not more than that.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Israel has been looking for someone who will set up a vaccine production facility in Israel that can be rapidly converted to the production of emergency vaccines in the event of another pandemic. The arrival in Israel of BioNTech, one of the world’s two leading companies in mRNA vaccines, is an excellent answer.

The factory will be built from scratch, and BioNTech will manufacture a future product there: a therapeutic immunization against cancer. The technology on which the immunization is based is similar to that of the Covid-19 vaccine and is also based on RNA, but the aim of the treatment is different. The company wants to “teach” the vaccine the characteristics of cancerous growths, and then let it attach a growth specifically.

The product is still a long way from the market. Clinical trials will start only this year. BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said a few weeks ago that he expected the product to be in wide commercial use “before 2030”. In fact, there is no certainty that it will ever reach the market, but unless there is a severe problem in the safety trials, the plant in Israel is due to start producing cancer immunization for the company’s clinical trials.

Sources:  Globes, BioNTech

About BioNTech

Biopharmaceutical New Technologies is a next-generation immunotherapy company pioneering novel therapies for cancer and other serious diseases. The Company exploits a wide array of computational discovery and therapeutic drug platforms for the rapid development of novel biopharmaceuticals. Its broad portfolio of oncology product candidates includes individualized and off-the-shelf mRNA-based therapies, innovative chimeric antigen receptor T cells, bispecific immune checkpoint modulators, targeted cancer antibodies, and small molecules. Based on its deep expertise in mRNA vaccine development and in-house manufacturing capabilities, BioNTech and its collaborators are developing multiple mRNA vaccine candidates for a range of infectious diseases alongside its diverse oncology pipeline. BioNTech has established a broad set of relationships with multiple global pharmaceutical collaborators, including Genmab, Sanofi, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, Regeneron, Genevant, Fosun Pharma, and Pfizer. For more information, please visit www.BioNTech.com

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