When Lonza started work on the facility this year its intention was to create a 100,000 square foot plant at which it will produce commercial quantities of viral gene and cell therapies.
This week the Swiss firm committed to add an additional 150,000 square feet of manufacturing space at the site according to an announcement by the Pearland Economic Development Corporation. The facility is scheduled to open at the end of 2017.
The decision follows a few months after Lonza was contracted by Bluebird Bio to manufacture its Lenti-D and LentiGlobin products at the facility.
At the time, company spokesman Dirk Oehlers told us the deal was a further indication of growing demand for the type of specialist contract manufacturing skills needed to make cell and gene therapies.
News of the plant expansion also follows just a few weeks after Lonza licensed rights to synthetic adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors and associated production technologies from US hearing research centre, Massachusetts Eye and Ear.
Luk Vandenberghe, from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, told us the tech – which Lonza will use at Pearland - is used to “optimize AAVs for therapeutic gene transfer applications on clinically relevant parameters including host immunity, production yields, tissue targeting and specificity.”
“The benefit of this approach is that it enables rationally informed design of therapeutic gene transfer vectors to address aspects important to safety and efficacy. “
The lead vector Anc80L65 – licensed by Lonza – was “generated using this approach and subsequently extensively characterized” Vandenberghe continued, adding that it “demonstrates benefits for applications in the muscle, retina, and live”