University of Alberta gets $55M from province for vaccine development

The University of Alberta is getting $55.1 million from the province to help develop vaccines for domestic production in Canada. 

The funding, announced Wednesday, will also go toward adding equipment and enhancing facilities to move vaccines into the clinical trial stage.

That includes upgrades to the university’s Biosafety Level 3 lab and the Alberta Cell Therapy Manufacturing Facility. 

The university will use the money for a facility with a cryogenic electron microscopy, or cryo-EM.

“This is … a high-resolution microscope that allows us to zoom in to the virus and to look at specific structures that we can target with vaccines or with therapeutics,” said Matthias Götte, chair of the medical microbiology and immunology department at the University of Alberta.

“This is cutting edge technology. It is vital. It is extremely important to have this technology here in Alberta.”

 Götte said only three other facilities have the technology in Canada. 

The Alberta government is also providing an additional $26.1 million to three life sciences companies, as long as they are able to secure funding from the federal government. 

Entos Pharmaceuticals has been promised $15.5 million to set up a commercial manufacturing facility in Edmonton. 

Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation and Northern RNA are promised $5.6 million and $5 million respectively.

The province said all four proposals were reviewed by an independent third party prior to getting approval.

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