The expansion will cost the company $6m (€5.14m), and is part of a $270m (€245.32m) investment bythe company, with the aim to increase its development processing and manufacturing capacity across its facilities.
Upon completion of the expansion, the facility will have doubled laboratory and warehouse space to support wider operations on upstream process development and quality control testing of gene therapy products, with Thermo Fisher’s viral vector services footprint being increased by 58%.
A spokesperson for the company told us that the quality control expansion has already been completed and the mechanical completion of process development expansion occurred in November.
“To enable further growth of our Alachua site, we are beginning construction of a 16,000-square-foot double-bay warehouse space, with additional neighboring space available for future growth,” the spokesperson noted, adding that the build out will incorporate the design and utilities for good manufacturing practice (GMP) warehousing, and it is expected to be completed in 2020.
The additional space to support the expansion was leased by Brammer Bio, which Thermo Fisher acquired earlier this year for $1.7bn.
The spokesperson also told us that the expansion “will allow for more at scale development, enabling better technology transfer to GMP and increasing the probability for success for our customers’ gene therapy products.”
Asked about whether this investment will create new jobs in the area, the spokesperson replied: “The Alachua site has grown rapidly over the past couple years. As the site has expanded, our headcount has continued to grow – from 100 employees in 2016 to 250 today, in Alachua alone. We are looking forward to the site’s continued growth and expanded opportunities for existing employees and the recruitment of new talent throughout 2020 and 2021.”
During the company’s participation at the CPhI Worldwide event 2019 in Frankfurt, Thermo Fisher’s R&D manager of Cell Culture and Cell Therapy spoke to us in depth about the company’s upstream processing services for biologics, and the challenges that the market faces.