4 Danger Mitigation Methods for Sourcing Customized Uncooked Supplies for mRNA Manufacturing

By Swati Patel and Michael Lanewala, Clarkston Consulting

Messenger RNA expertise is a promising platform that provides sooner and simpler methods to deal with and stop illness. It continues to develop its presence as corporations look to use expertise past the COVID mRNA vaccine. Nonetheless, the planning and procurement of custom-made supplies wanted to provide mRNA stays a significant concern for corporations.1

Listed here are some approaches to alleviate a few of the challenges related to utilizing customized uncooked supplies:

  1. Multi-Procurement: greater than a provider for sourcing customized uncooked supplies
  2. S&OP course of: visibility into forecasts and powerful communication between all events
  3. Packing measurement: Optimize materials utilization by linking pack measurement to lot measurement
  4. Materials expiration: decide danger tolerance for expiring supplies

Whereas these methods could be utilized to different feedstocks, the suggestions beneath are meant for mRNA manufacturing. Let’s take a better take a look at every of those approaches.


Switching to a twin or a number of sourcing technique for customized uncooked supplies is one technique corporations can implement to cut back the sourcing danger related to single sourcing. Having a couple of provider for a given materials can scale back variability within the manufacturing plan which might be attributable to capability constraints and/or high quality points. It additionally gives a backup possibility in case of unexpected issues which will require extra and/or new stuff.

Whereas discovering an alternate provider looks like an apparent choice, corporations are unable to simply undertake this technique as a result of it not solely takes time, sources and energy, but in addition imposes a brand new set of issues.

Suppliers should be certified earlier than their supplies can be utilized for GxP functions. The qualification course of requires sources to arrange, conduct and overview provider audits. Moreover, as soon as a provider is on board, corporations want sources to handle the brand new provider relationship, set up correct communication and visibility for his or her manufacturing plan, and guarantee they will meet provide wants. Due to this fact, company sponsorship and useful resource availability are a should for adopting a multi-sourcing technique.

Product high quality between suppliers can differ, resulting in variations within the closing product relying on the uncooked materials used. An intensive qualification course of may also help scale back this downside, however one other attainable resolution is to separate packages by vendor. For instance, if Program A makes use of solely materials from Provider 1 and Program B makes use of solely materials from Provider 2, the general demand for the enterprise could be met and materials variations between suppliers shall be mitigated. This may be helpful even when packages are geographically divided, as suppliers shut to every manufacturing website can be utilized for his or her site-specific packages.

Splitting demand amongst suppliers will possible result in a discount in buying quantity from every provider, which can influence pricing as quantity reductions might not be accessible. Additionally, if a provider is barely used often, they could be extra liable to manufacturing defects as a result of they do not produce as a lot materials or the price of sustaining the certified entity outweighs the advantage of having an alternate supply.

S&OP course of

A sturdy gross sales and operations planning (S&OP) course of (or demand and operations planning if there is no such thing as a industrial gross sales) is a should to make sure that the provision chain has clear visibility into enterprise necessities. Management should settle for the need of the method and implement on all teams the significance of well timed communication of modifications to the manufacturing plan. At a minimal, the amount wanted for the present 12 months ought to be identified, however because the lead time for most of the supplies could be six to 9 months, a two to 3 12 months window of visibility will assist plan your provide chain extra precisely.

Enterprise models want to grasp the influence of their modifications on the custom-made supplies manufacturing plan. On account of lengthy lead instances, the provision chain must lock heaps into provider schedules as quickly as attainable. There’ll possible be some flexibility within the schedule, however since purchases shall be pushed by whole demand over a given interval, the earlier heaps are locked into the schedule, the higher the pricing and probabilities of on-time supply. Additionally, as large-scale batches turn out to be crucial, suppliers could must scale up their operations to fulfill uncooked materials necessities. With out satisfactory visibility, suppliers shall be unable to fulfill demand and should miss crucial milestones.

The S&OP course of may assist establish the place there are inefficiencies in lot sizes or variety of heaps produced and naturally appropriate accordingly. If a bunch is producing 10g of fabric however solely 5g of fabric shall be consumed downstream, inspecting the logic of lot measurement and potential scaling to account for downstream processes could scale back whole demand and buying necessities. Alternatively, the extra materials produced can be utilized for coaching or to check batches when transferring new processes or establishing a brand new programme. It could even be attainable to mix heaps (for instance, a number of coaching and water) to cut back the general demand for uncooked supplies. Visibility and communication are the keys to higher planning.

Lastly, the S&OP course of is very essential for prioritizing bidding throughout a number of packages. Enterprise models ought to collectively focus on every program and batch criticality. If the provision necessities can’t be met, which heaps ought to be chosen to proceed? There are numerous attainable components to think about, reminiscent of regulatory calls for, scientific trial calls for, and enterprise technique. In the end, the group should resolve which batches are extra crucial to finish than others.

Pack measurement

Adjusting the package deal measurement can be utilized to assist tackle a few of the dangers related to customized mRNA uncooked supplies.

With custom-made beginning supplies, freeze/thaw research are unlikely to have been carried out. With out knowledge to substantiate the effectiveness of thawing a cloth, utilizing a few of it, and re-freezing the remainder, your entire thawed lot should be used or the unused parts discarded as there is no such thing as a proof. Through the use of packing dimensions that replicate the amount of fabric required by the Invoice of Supplies (BOM), and by adjusting the manufacturing lot measurement for the uncooked materials accordingly, you may remove the danger of freeze/thaw. For instance, in case your commonest batch measurement is 10mg and your BOM requires 1g of uncooked materials per mg of ultimate product you may work along with your provider to get 10g or 5g packs to make sure your entire container is utilized in one batch.

The scale of the packaging may assist to account for the difficulties arising from the bodily properties of some uncooked supplies. Customized lipids, for instance, could be extremely viscous and troublesome to measure precisely. In case your batch requires 20 mL of fabric and the package deal accommodates 30 mL, measuring the correct quantity of uncooked materials could be extraordinarily troublesome, leading to additional materials loss throughout switch. Utilizing a pack measurement that displays the quantity of fabric wanted for the lot can remove the issue of measuring materials, as a result of your entire container can be utilized.

Materials expiration

One of many greatest dangers with customized commodities is expiration. Shopping for in portions to fulfill demand for manufacturing that’s not being constructed can lead to giant portions of pricey supplies not being consumed, particularly when deadlines are always being evaluated. In the end, your tolerance for this danger will outline your buying and stock technique for customized commodities. In case your danger tolerance is low, overordering and/or sustaining security inventory to make sure availability of custom-made uncooked supplies will assist scale back your danger however will end in excessive stock ranges and prices. If security inventory stock just isn’t utilized in a well timed method, it can lead to larger ranges of expired supplies. Due to this fact, figuring out the proper stage of security inventory will rely in your danger tolerance.

Conversely, in case your danger tolerance is excessive, decreasing stock as a lot as attainable and rescheduling heaps may also help preserve prices down. One option to scale back stock of expired materials is to seek out various makes use of for the fabric. For those who use a platform technique the place each product shares the identical customized uncooked materials, you may transfer unused elements to a different program and scale back future procurement bills. You may as well transfer materials from GxP to non-GxP makes use of. R&D is extra prone to eat materials as they can use expired supplies (after retesting to make sure performance). Another choice is to conduct stability research to increase the shelf life expiration. Firms must spend money on stability research that may assist lengthen the deadline, which could be achieved in-house or outsourced. A product platform technique may assist lengthen expiration dates for customized supplies, as earlier stability heaps can be utilized to increase the expiration date of subsequently bought or manufactured heaps.

Trying forward with mRNA manufacturing

Firms embarking on mRNA manufacturing might want to supply custom-made uncooked supplies, which pose new challenges, reminiscent of lengthy lead instances, restricted suppliers, small batch portions, and ever-changing and creating expiration intervals. Whereas there is no such thing as a silver bullet, implementing any or all the methods mentioned above may also help corporations higher plan and meet their manufacturing wants.


  1. Lanewala, M. and Patel, S. (2022, October 18). Administration of custom-made uncooked supplies for mRNA manufacturing.

In regards to the Authors:

Swati Patel is a director of life sciences at Clarkston Consulting, with over 25 years of expertise within the life sciences business. She has labored with many main pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporations to implement international ERP options, present program/mission administration for large-scale and strategic initiatives, and help the transition of scientific biotechnology corporations into industrial organizations.

Michael Lanewala is a supervisor at Clarkston Consulting with 20 years of life sciences expertise. He has labored primarily with purchasers within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, specializing in mission administration and technical resolution improvement, and likewise has in depth expertise with the implementation of high quality techniques, particularly laboratory data administration techniques (LIMS) .

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