The Seattle area is home to a new flexible drug manufacturing plant Just – Evotec Biologics It was unveiled on Wednesday at the opening ceremony of the 130,000-square-foot factory in Redmond, Washington.
According to the company, the plant plans to produce antibodies for the U.S. Department of Defense to potentially treat COVID-19, and can produce this protein-based drug more efficiently and at a lower cost than traditional plants.
The facility “brings new, highly innovative, commercial-scale manufacturing capabilities to our industry, and can flexibly produce small and high-volume APIs for local and global biotech companies,” the industry trade group Life Science CEO Leslie Alexandre said.Washington, one Press release.
Just – Evotec Biologics originated from Just Biotherapeutics, a Seattle start-up company founded in 2014 to reduce the cost of producing protein therapies and make them more accessible globally. This company, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was acquired by Hamburg-based Evotec SE in 2019 and is now a subsidiary of Evotec. The new plant is the core of the end-to-end drug development and manufacturing platform developed by the company.
Just – Evotec can design, develop, and manufacture antibodies and other drugs starting from a drug target, which is a molecule that has been identified as a key disease. Machine learning helps to identify potential therapeutic antibodies, and proprietary software hones the antibody design to produce a large number of stable products.
The new factory uses a method called Continuous manufacturing, An emerging technology that is more effective than the traditional large-scale batch processing commonly used to manufacture such biological agents.
James Thomas, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Biotherapy of Just-Evotec, said in an interview with GeekWire: “We have reduced the scale of operations to one-tenth of the scale of these large facilities.”
He added: “We can produce the same number of products as they produce, but we can produce in smaller and more flexible facilities.”
The facility is called J.POD 1. Modular clean rooms called pods can be used to manufacture materials in kilograms or tons. These clean rooms contain bioreactors and other continuous production equipment.
The company has its own drug development pipeline and has multiple partnerships, including Seattle-based OncoResponse Help with development and manufacturing Therapeutic anti-cancer antibodies used in clinical trials. Just-Evotec also recently announced a $15 million multi-year Expand cooperation Cooperation with pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co.
company Signed a $28.6 million agreement In January, we worked with the Department of Defense to produce antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19. These antibodies will be used to develop treatment or prevention methods for COVD-19. The company is also developing similar antibodies with other partners, Including the Gates FoundationThomas, the former CEO and founding partner of Just, said the company also has the ability to produce vaccines.
Compared with the four years or more required by traditional factories, the facility took only 19 months to complete—most of which was during the pandemic.
Thomas said that the actual manufacturing space of the new factory currently only accounts for about 10% of the factory and can be expanded. The remaining space is dedicated to offices and meeting rooms; laboratories for testing and developing manufacturing processes; and a warehouse.
The new J.POD facility adds to Washington State’s growing drug and vaccine manufacturing base.Located in Bothell, Washington AGC Biological Products And based on Spokane Jubilant Hollister SteeleFor example, both companies are producing products for Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Just-Evotec currently has more than 250 employees and is expected to grow to about 300 by the end of this year. The company will retain its current clinical manufacturing facility in Seattle.Too Plan to build A similar facility in France, J.POD 2. “This is a deployable technology, so we can build these facilities relatively quickly,” Thomas said.
Thomas said that J.POD 1 has achieved a long-term vision of improving the manufacturing of protein therapies. His previous experience includes leading the development of manufacturing processes for the Seattle biotechnology flagship company Immunex, which was acquired by Amgen. “Our first focus is on technology,” Thomas said. “We are working hard to lead the industry.”