A Melbourne-developed vaccine with the potential to save thousands of lives is to be manufactured by a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

The Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) has signed a licensing agreement with vaccine manufacturer Changchun Zhuoyi Biological to make, manufacture and sell MCRI's rotavirus vaccine, RV3-BB.

Key vaccine researcher Professor Julie Bines said rotavirus kills around 215,000 children under five every year around the world.

"MCRI's new vaccine RV3-BB has the potential to save lives in China and decrease the burden of rotavirus disease in infants and children," Professor Bines said. 

Professor Bines said the RV3-BB vaccine provides early protection from birth against dehydrating diarrhoea caused by rotavirus. 

"Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea in babies and young children, and is one of the leading causes of childhood illness and death," she said. "We are very happy to sign this agreement aimed at improving the health of infants and children."

Changchun Zhuoyi Biological Chief Executive Officer Mr Feng Xingfu said his company was perfectly placed to produce, sell and distribute MCRI's rotavirus vaccine RV3-BB in China.

"Changchun Zhuoyi is already manufacturing a rabies vaccine in China, but our achievements go beyond that – we were the first biological products company in the Jilin Province to pass the two-in-one certification of China's Federal Drug Agency inspection on Drug Production License and GMP certification." 

Mr Feng said under the technology licensing agreement, Changchun Zhuoyi would further develop the RV-3 vaccine from research and development grade to a commercial-ready product by reformulating and optimising the vaccine yield.

"It will then be distributed in China by Changchun Zhuoyi and around the world through public sector agencies such as the World Health Organisation and GAVI (Gates Alliance for Vaccine Initiatives)," Mr Feng said.

MCRI's RV3-BB vaccine is the culmination of more than four decades of work that began with the discovery of the rotavirus in the Parkville precinct.

The RV3-BB vaccine is based on a rotavirus strain that was isolated by Professor Bishop, Professor Graeme Barnes and their colleagues in the newborn nurseries in Melbourne in 1973. This strain did not cause symptoms in the babies who were infected, and instead provides protection against severe gastroenteritis.

MCRI has been actively seeking to license RV3-BB to vaccine manufacturers capable of producing vaccines at an accessible price and large scale, to make this readily accessible worldwide.

Changchun Zhuoyi is a vaccine production company founded in 2005 in Changchun, Jilin Province of China. 

Available for interview:

MCRI's Key vaccine researcher Professor Julie Bines 

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