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Local Biotech Firm Claims to Make COVID Vaccines Faster, Cheaper

A South Florida-based biotech company says it has the science to mass-produce COVID-19 vaccines more quickly and cost effectively than anyone else, when they become available.

Mark Emalfarb, founder and CEO of Dyadic International, which is headquartered in Jupiter, tells West Palm Beach television station WPEC his staff is capable of producing one-billion doses per month.

Emalfarb explains that he has spent the last two-and-a-half decades engineering a fungal cell, nicknamed C1, which is now being used in industrial biotech.

He goes on to say that it is being further developed to help eventually mass-produce vaccines and drugs in larger quantities at a more affordable cost.

“It’s very unique and the hyper-productivity came from a serendipitous mutation,” he says. “This is something that happened by accident, kind of like penicillin.”

In addition, Emalfarb believes the technology, which has FDA GRAS approval for food and feed and has already been successfully tested on animals, could lead to mass production of a coronavirus vaccine.

“I mean people are talking about if they are lucky they can make a billion doses in a year,” he adds. “In a week, we can pump out 1.5 billion doses of an antigen, which is the most active component that goes into making a vaccine. It’s a critical component.”

Dyadic is working with labs and scientists worldwide on the project.

The way it works is those labs share their vaccine gene sequence, which Dyadic places into its hyper-productivity C1 cells.

The cells are grown in commercial fermenters, in order to produce the antigen quickly.

Data so far indicates that C1 will be effective in vaccine production, according to Emalfarb.

While the typical turnaround time for other methods is about 50 days,  Emalfarb says commercial fermenters can mass-produce batches of C1 in just 10 to 14 days.