Curitiba will enter the map of high-tech research and production of vaccines and medicines. By the end of 2022, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) intends to install two new plants at the Carlos Chagas Institute (ICC), the agency’s complex associated with the Department of Health in the CIC district.
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At a cost of R$100 million, the new laboratories will be the first in Brazil to produce immunizations and medicines using biotechnology. What will turn the capital of Parana into a main center The World Health Organization (WHO) is involved in the production of medicines for advanced curative diseases, such as cancer and autoimmune diseases.
The new plants will have a partnership with the state government, which will supply materials for production from the Institute of Technology of Paraná (Tecpar) and the Institute of Molecular Biology of Paraná (IBPMP). The partnership has made Fiocruz in Curitiba the largest national producer of Covid-19 tests, with production of 10 million RT-PCR tests and 37.5 million antigen tests.
At one plant, Fiocruz will produce messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, which have gained traction in the Covid-19 pandemic. In this type of vaccine, part of the genetic code of the virus that causes the disease is vaccinated in the body. The code carries instructions for cells to produce proteins that defend the organism from attack by viruses, antibodies.
This plant will also produce inputs for the manufacture of vaccines. According to the vice president of health production and innovation at Vucruz, biologist Marco Krieger, the epidemic has proven necessary, because the delivery of some vaccine kits has been delayed in Brazil pending the import of the packaged material. He compares, “Producing our inputs speeds up research and production capacity because it excludes imports. There are inputs that take six months to import, and they can be reached in 10 to 15 days if we produce them ourselves.”
The impact will also be on costs, Krieger notes. Having your own production of inputs should reduce the value of vaccine production between 35% and 40%. “It’s an investment in the production chain that also affects research, with the potential to develop or even update the immune system faster without the researcher having to wait a long time for input. It’s the strategic issue of perfecting the technology and making it available to the population more quickly”, Vuecruz deputy emphasizes.
Among the immunizations that can be studied at the ICC in Curitiba, Krieger points out, are those for HIV, hepatitis C and dengue (for which there is currently a vaccine only for those who have already contracted the disease). The new structure will also allow studies to produce combined vaccines, where the same dose can protect against more than one disease, such as Covid-19 and influenza, for example. “We are preparing for this revolution that is happening, as these technologies have a very significant impact on public health,” Krieger adds.
The other plant, in turn, will develop and produce new drugs for cancer, autoimmune diseases and transplant diseases as well as rare diseases. According to the Vice President of Vicruz, these drugs represent only 15% of the volume of purchases of specialized care medicines from the Ministry of Health. However, due to the great complexity of these diseases, this small amount represents 65% of the expenses of the portfolio department.
“This new plant in Curitiba will be used to expand production that does not exist in Brazil,” Krieger explains. “These are the most expensive drugs because they have high added value and complicated methods.”
The equipment needed to produce these drugs alone represents half of the total value that Vucrose will invest in the two manufacturers: R$50 million.
The two new Fiocruz plants will provide a highly qualified workforce in Curitiba. They are researchers who will work in research and in the production of new vaccines and drugs. It is estimated that about 100 researchers will join the current staff of the Carlos Chagas Institute at CIC, which varies around 500 collaborators.
This access to new technologies and qualified professionals made the city of Curitiba also support the installation of the new Fiocruz laboratories, within the Vale do Pinhão project. “The proposal is allied with city council projects to make the city smarter. Biotechnology is one of the sectors covered by TEcnoparque, a municipal program launched in 2018 to attract technology-based companies to the city, with tax incentives and integration with the Pinhão Valley,” reports the city council in a note.