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Strong sales lead Laureate to expand on manufacturing

By Gregory Roumeliotis , 20-Jun-2006

Laureate Pharma is planning to invest up to $9m (€7.1m) to expand its biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in New Jersey with a new pilot production plant, as it seeks more capacity to cope with increased demand from clients for protein-based products.

Business is looking good for the US biomanufacturing firm; recently it won two lucrative contracts, one with Seattle Genetics to make humanised monoclonal antibody product candidates for clinical trial, and the other with Iconic Therapeutics for production of hI-con1, a bi-functional immunoprotein for the treatment of wet adult macular degeneration and many solid cancers.

The new pilot production plant in Princeton will offer two separate production suites and expanded purification production capacity to support additional current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) production.

The pilot plant is designed for process development, production and purification of early-phase preclinical proteins and is isolated from Laureate's main manufacturing area.

It will include stainless steel stirred tank bioreactors and disposable single-use bioreactors, the same technologies used in Laureate's large-scale cGMP biomanufacturing facility.

Morover, it will be fully equipped with bioprocess purification systems, analytical testing systems and associated equipment.

"2006 has been a very strong year for Laureate Pharma," said Robert Broeze, Laureate's president and CEO.

"In anticipation of continued growth, we are significantly increasing our development and manufacturing capacity to meet our clients' current and future needs."

Construction on the expansion has already started, with completion of the pilot production suites expected by the end of 2006, while the additional cGMP capacity is expected to be operational in mid-2007.

Laureate's primary engineering firm for the project is CE&IC of Burlington, New Jersey.

In January, Laureate bowed out of its major contract manufacturing role with Discovery Laboratories by selling its Totowa, New Jersey, operations to the biotech company for $16m in order to expand its bioprocessing services at its Princeton, New Jersey Facility, where the majority of its contract manufacturing revenues over the past two years has been generated.

Laureate now predicts its workforce will have grown by 15 per cent by the end of the year and is recruiting additional professional and technical staff to supplement its existing teams.

The job postings can be found on >Laureate's web site .

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