Vaccines mRNA - Supertrends

Tailor-Made Software Lets BioNTech Provide Customized mRNA Treatments

In just three years, German pharma company BioNTech, which delivered the first vaccine against COVID-19, has become a major player in the biotech field, not only delivering hundreds of millions of vaccine doses, but also continuing its original focus on mRNA vaccines and other drugs to treat cancer. The company’s rapid growth has not only brought fame and revenues, however, but also new collaborations, production facilities, and supply chains that need to be carefully managed on a country-by-country basis, especially because its core product are personalized mRNA vaccines that are specifically tailored to individual patients.

In order to handle the massive increase in logistics while continuing to coordinate its research and distribution, BioNTech has entered into a partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM, a renowned German applied research institute that develops and implements technologies spanning theoretical and applied mathematics in collaboration with industry partners. Working together, Fraunhofer ITWM and BioNTech developed two software platforms whose algorithms support planning, management, and automation of the pharma company’s global research and distribution work, including cancer treatment and vaccination applications, and to adapt to new requirements.

Fraunhofer ITWM researcher Heiner Ackermann, who works at the High Performance Center Simulation and Software Based Innovation in Kaiserslautern, Germany, said the software tools are able to handle the complexity of BioNTech’s work flows in a way that off-the-shelf solutions cannot match. As such, they provide a “solution that uses flexible mathematical methods and models – a tailor-made solution that is not only specifically designed for the processes at BioNTech, but can also optimize them,” Ackermann explained.

The challenges of managing the complex operations of a global biotech corporation include applications for regulatory approval, setting up and carrying out pharmaceutical trials, or dealing with industry-specific problems such as fluctuating process times and higher reject rates caused by defective tissue samples, to name just a few. But for BioNTech, these challenges are compounded by the fact that its individualized cancer drugs are designed differently for each patient in small batches. They are then distributed to many countries, each of which has its own regulatory requirements governing everything from initial approval to rules about shelf life. 

Now, the company has received its own customized solutions to deal with this high level of complexity. With the two new software platforms, BioNTech will be able to establish durable and stable production processes for vaccine production and individualized mRNA-based cancer treatments. “Thanks to our successful collaboration with the Fraunhofer ITWM team, BioNTech has acquired tailor-made solutions that provide vital support in high-stakes situations. We will continue to use the software-optimized processes in other areas in the future,” said Oliver Henning, Senior Vice President Operations at BioNTech.

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Chris Findlay

I'm a journalist, editor, and translator based in Zurich, Switzerland. I write about technology and future timelines at, where I also help expand the community as Expert Relationship Manager.

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