PPD adds cell and gene therapy testing capabilities to Irish site

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Dilok Klaisataporn
© GettyImages/Dilok Klaisataporn

Related tags: cell and gene therapy

US contract research organization, PPD Inc, is expanding its Athlone, Ireland, GMP laboratory, significantly increasing the size of its current facility and adding cell and gene therapy (CGT) testing to the operation’s portfolio of services.

The move, it said, will enhance PPD’s ability to meet growing customer demand in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region for scientific and technical expertise – by offering these services at the Athlone operation, the CRO said it can provide clients in these locations with the same services already available in the US.

Christopher Fikry, executive vice president, PPD Laboratories, said: “The expansion of our Athlone GMP laboratory represents PPD’s ongoing investment toward continued growth of our operations in Ireland in order to offer enhanced service capabilities to our growing client base in that region and throughout the world.”

Weighing in on the new CGT testing capabilities the Irish site will provide, he told BioPharma-Reporter: “Cell and gene therapy products are next generation pharmaceuticals that offer novel technologies for new options for treating diseases. Where no treatment or cure is available these products have the potential for opening new doors for drug development. PPD’s GMP lab in Middleton, Wisconsin, US, is already working on this extremely exciting and pioneering field, so we are incorporating this same knowledge into the operations of our GMP Lab in Athlone."

The Athlone operations, added Fikry, have seen significant growth in recent years due to the need for biopharmaceutical testing related to late-stage clinical and commercial programs. The site offers analytical services across all phases of pharmaceutical development and commercialization, with the idea of of helping customers fulfill regulatory requirements for release testing and qualified person (QP) services for clinical and marketed pharmaceuticals in the EU, including small and large molecules and inhaled products.

The current 4,460 sq. meter (48,000 sq. foot) operation will grow to 7,710 sq. meters (83,000 sq. feet) upon completion of the project, which is expected to be fully functional by mid-2022.

The expansion is set to create 180 new jobs over the next three years, said PPD; the existing laboratory employs nearly 300 highly skilled scientists and project managers.

Ireland is 'business friendly'

Ireland, stressed Fikry, offers a business-friendly climate and a highly skilled workforce through its close proximity to the Athlone Institute of Technology and other educational facilities in Ireland. “We are thankful our expansion has been so welcomed and supported by the Irish government and IDA Ireland.”

In addition to the lab in Athlone, PPD Laboratories includes GMP labs in Middleton, Wisconsin; bioanalytical labs in Middleton and Richmond, Virginia; central labs in Shanghai, China, Brussels, Belgium, Highland Heights, Kentucky, and Singapore; biomarker labs in Highland Heights and Richmond; a vaccine sciences lab in Richmond; and a multipurpose bioanalytical, biomarker and vaccine sciences lab that is nearing completion in Suzhou, China.

In mid-April, Thermo Fisher Scientific announced its intention​ to acquire PPD for US$17.4bn.

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