The move, billed as part of Lonza's worldwide demand-driven manufacturing capacity expansion strategy, and ties in with a report earlier this year that the market for CTM was fairly buoyant in 2004, helped by an up-tick in the number of biologics coming through development, while commercial-scale contract manufacturing took a pounding.
"This expansion is in response to the increased worldwide customer demand for mammalian derived bio-therapeutics and the increasing number of products requiring clinical scale manufacture, said Lonza in a statement.
The new funds will pay for the installation of a 500-litre stirred tank bioreactor system with associated inoculum expansion area, media preparation and primary recovery capabilities. In addition, two new purification suites will be created. These will be used to meet the increased downstream requirements resulting from the new bioreactor and from the increasing product titres being realized with Lonza's GS expression technology.
Lonza's GS system makes use of selection via glutamine metabolism and viral promoters to boost yields of biologics made in mammalian cells. It has already been used in the manufacture of dozens of companies' products.
This additional fermentation capacity is scheduled to be on line in the fourth quarter of 2006, said Lonza.
Lonza is currently installing an additional 20,000L bioreactor train within its existing large scale mammalian manufacturing facility in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, US, due to be on line in mid 2006. However, the news last week that Genentech, one of the Swiss company's top tier customers, is planning to buy a manufacturing plant from Biogen Idec led to speculation about this expansion and Lonza's ability to meet growth targets.
It is also building a commercial scale biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility that includes two 15,000-litre microbial production trains in Visp, Switzerland.