WuXi Biologics commenced operations yesterday at a new biomanufacturing plant in WuXi City, about 100km west of Shanghai, China.
The plant boasts two 1,000L single-use bioreactors offering perfusion processes to the contract manufacturing organisation’s (CMO) biopharma customers.
Compared to traditional batch-fed biomanufacturing processes, perfusion allows the continuous feeding and harvesting of biologics like monoclonal antibodies for several months at a time, and according to WuXi there is large demand for such technologies.
“Globally there is limited capacity,” Dr. Chris Chen, CEO of WuXi Biologics, told Biopharma-Reporter, adding the new facility is the largest single-use perfusion biomanufacturing facility in Asia and will cater for “great needs” in the space.
Single-use perfusion technologies are viewed as an important advance in the continuous manufacture of monoclonal antibodies and vaccines, but continuous downstream processes are less established with fewer off-the-shelf options available to manufacturers and limited technologies bridging the gap with the upstream.
“We are developing the continuous purification technologies together with vendors,” said Chen but the firm – and industry – is challenged by the fact continuous chromatography hardware isn't readily available.
The opening of the plant itself is the first part of a $150m (€134m) investment in WuXi City announced in 2014, with construction beginning in May 2015.
Another biomanufacturing suite will house fourteen 2,000L disposable bioreactors for batch-fed cell culture, set to begin operations early next year.
Cell banking development ups and downs in the US
Meanwhile, WuXi recently told us it is expanding its US cell line development services at its Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to be able to handle 100 projects per year.
“We just brought online five suites for cell banking, managing 80 banking projects per year,” a spokesperson said.
However, the firm also confirmed it has “stopped cell bank storage services in US and expanded them in China.”