Evonik strengthens partnership with BioNTech on COVID-19 vaccine

The company produces lipids used in BioNTech’s mRNA vaccines

Evonik is investing in the short-term expansion of its specialty lipids production for mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines. Commercial lipid quantities are to be produced at Evonik’s Hanau and Dossenheim sites in Germany as early as the second half of 2021 as part of a strategic partnership with vaccine manufacturer BioNTech.

"The pandemic requires decisive action," says Christian Kullmann, chairman of Evonik’s executive board. "We are therefore doing everything possible to supply our partners with the critical lipids they need. At the same time, we are expanding our production capacity and competencies along the entire value chain."

Lipids are fundamental to produce highly effective mRNA-based vaccines, Evonik says. This move marks an expansion of the strategic partnership between Evonik and the vaccine manufacturer BioNTech.

In mRNA-based vaccines, the mRNA is enclosed in a lipid nanoparticle (LNP) that is comprised of specific lipids. The LNP protects the mRNA and delivers it into the cell. There, it’s released so that the vaccine can exert its effect.

"With our partnership with BioNTech, we are systematically expanding our leading position as an integrated development partner in cell and gene therapies," said Thomas Riermeier, Head of Evonik's Health Care business line. “Evonik’s portfolio includes pharmaceutical excipients such as lipids, as well as CDMO services for the formulation development, GMP manufacturing and aseptic filling of complex parenteral drug products.”

The company already develops and formulates lipid nanoparticles in Burnaby, Canada, and operates a facility for the production and fill-finish of commercial quantities in Birmingham, Alabama, USA. "We made a targeted investment in this promising technology in 2016 with the acquisition of Burnaby-based Transferra Nanosciences," Riermeier said. The portfolio was further expanded at the beginning of 2020 with the acquisition of Wilshire Technologies, an American manufacturer of non-animal derived excipients for the pharmaceutical industry.

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