The Government of Victoria state in Australia has announced funding support for a locally developed mRNA Covid-19 vaccine to advance into Phase I clinical trials.

The vaccine candidate, developed by the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS), is said to be the first Covid-19 vaccine made in Australia.

The Victorian Government agreed to invest $3.7m (A$5m) to support MIPS in manufacturing the vaccine candidate doses for trials. The manufacturing project is expected to create jobs.

This investment is the first from the government’s $37m (A$50m) fund to grow Victoria’s mRNA manufacturing capability.

In a statement, Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews said: “The novel mRNA-based vaccine will enable a Victorian manufacturer to develop critical manufacturing capability of mRNA vaccines for clinical trials, a level of expertise currently unavailable in Australia.

“The collaboration between MIPS and the Doherty Institute reinforces the strong mRNA sector in Victoria and means we are leading the national charge to develop mRNA manufacturing capability.”

The mRNA capability is set to have a wider application in HIV, cancer and additional treatments.

The MIPS Covid-19 vaccine previously received $2.2m (A$3m) from the Medical Research Future Fund to cover Phase I trial costs.

Approximately 150 people will be part of the trials, which are scheduled to commence in October this year. The preliminary trial data are anticipated to be reported in the first half of next year.

Monash University pharmaceutical biology professor Colin Pouton said: “The investment by the Victorian Government into establishing Victoria’s mRNA manufacturing capability presents exciting opportunities to develop life-saving vaccines and therapeutic treatments for all Australians.”

Earlier this month, Vaxxas, an Australian biotechnology firm spun out of the University of Queensland, announced promising results from pre-clinical trials into its high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP) for vaccination against Covid-19.

The pre-clinical study of the HD-MAP showed enhancement of immune response compared to traditional needle-and-syringe vaccination.