The Swiss life sciences supplier said it would build a 100,000sqft facility for the development of viral therapy and immunotherapy products that will house modular cleanrooms, 2000 litre-scale production bioreactors and a separate fill-finish suite.
Andreas Weiler, who heads up Lonza’s emerging technologies team, said the investment was prompted by increasing pharmaceutical industry interest in gene therapies, particularly for the treatment of cancer and heart disease.
"This investment will allow Lonza to be well positioned to meet the demands of this growing market and to remain at the forefront of the viral gene therapy industry” Weiler explained.
He added that: “Our viral team has more than 20 years of experience in viral vector gene therapy that, when combined with our newly constructed leading edge facility, will provide a key advantage to our customers and ultimately to their patients.”
The comments about gene therapy echo what Lonza said in January during its conference call when I reported growing customer interest in viral therapies and antibody drug conjugate (ADC) development and production capacity.
The Houston site is expected to be operational in the first half of 2017.
The investment comes after three years of manufacturing capacity reduction at Lonza, which has been trying to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
News of the new plant also follows Lonza’s deal with Japanese conglomerate Nikon, which will see it share its facility design expertise to help set up a cell and gene therapy production facility.
The collaboation comes as the Japanese Government works to encourage the country's regenerative medicines industry and build cell therapy production capacity.