Engineering yeast for mRNA production: TWB is partner of the european project Yscript
Launched in April 2022, the Yscript project aims to develop a tailor-made yeast-based messenger RNA (mRNA) factory platform for large-scale and cost-effective manufacturing of mRNA therapeutics. Selected by the European Union as part of Horizon Europe, the Yscript consortium brings together eight partners from 5 countries: CNRS, TWB INRAE (France); UAVR, UBI (Portugal); TRON gGmbH, EURICE (Germany); IBCH PAS (Poland); BIASEP (Slovenia). It is led by Prof Chantal Pichon, from Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire of CNRS and University of Orléans. “The project will be a gamechanger in the fight against many diseases” and ” the development of a specific mRNA-bioproduction and purification process in yeast would be groundbreaking” says Prof. Chantal Pichon. The overall budget allocated to the project is €3,400,000.
The yeast cell factory for mRNA bioproduction
Yeast cells are known to be safe for human applications and are already used in the production of pharmaceuticals, among other applications. However, yeast has never been used in the production of messenger RNA for therapeutic purposes. Currently, production is performed by in-vitro synthesis with a complex supply chain and an expensive purification process. The scientific challenge is to produce mRNA of a gene of interest on demand and to separate this specific mRNA from other mRNAs in yeast. The project attempts to do this by assembling mRNA-of-interest in specialized compartments, from where it could be specifically purified.
TWB & yeast bioprocess development
Over the next 3 years, Yscript will focus on two objectives:
- The development of a robust and scalable yeast-bioprocess for the production of different lengths of mRNA.
- The design of innovative and cost-effective extraction and purification processes for bio produced mRNA.
TWB will work on the first objective in order to improve the robustness and develop the scale-up of the proof of concept.
The project has the potential to provide Europe with a cost-effective approach to defend itself against future infection outbreaks, but also to expand its arsenal to treat chronic diseases, which are on the rise due to population aging. Chantal Pichon is convinced that “Yscript will promote the development of affordable and accessible mRNA-based therapies for the well-being and health of citizens around the world. Thus, TWB is contributing to a project that will have a positive impact not only on health, but also on the economy and society.
Yscript has received funding from the European Innovation Council (EIC) under grant agreement No 101047214. The EIC receives support from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme.
- Yscript project website.
1 Messenger RNA, messenger ribonucleic acid or mRNA is an intermediate ribonucleic acid molecule (present in living beings and certain viruses), consisting of a transient copy of a portion of DNA. mRNA corresponds to one or more genes of a biological organism.
2 GRAS : ‘’Generally Recognized As Safe’’.