Wacker expands further into biologics

By Katrina Megget

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Biotechnology, Escherichia coli

Biopharmaceutical contract manufacturer Wacker will be expanding
its German facility in Jena for €15m ($22m) as it meets demand for
biologics.

The investment involves two expansion projects at the Jena site and will see a doubling of manufacturing space. Wacker Biotech, Wacker's Jena-based subsidiary, is pushing more into the highly profitable biologics market, which has growth rates of more than 15 per cent, with the intention to secure further growth in biologics to strengthen its market position. "The new facilities will enable us to greatly accelerate our growth in the attractive biologics market,"​ Wacker Fine Chemicals division president Dr Gerhard Schmid said. The first expansion project will add a new purification station to help ease bottlenecks and will double the manufacturing space. This new facility, scheduled to be ready at the end of 2009, will provide increased capacity for customers whose biologics are almost ready for market supply. The second project will see the construction of a new building for process-development and quality-control. This building, scheduled for completion in late 2008, will be used to meet "increasing customer demand"​ of the company's proprietary E. coli-based proteine secretion technology. The quality control labs are also being expanded to enable the company to satisfy the demand for detailed product and process characterisation. The expansions, which have already started, will provide biologics for clinical trial and commercial supply. "By investing in a new manufacturing facility, Wacker has taken another important strategic step into the promising and fast-growing biologics market,"​ Wacker Biotech managing director Dr Thomas Maier said. "Wacker can offer its customers the production capacity they need for their successful products. At the same time, we can make our secretion system available to even more customers." ​ The company uses microbial systems to manufacture its biologics - mainly the E. coli-based technology but the company also has experience with yeast-based systems. The core technology uses the E. coli K12 strain, which is capable of secreting a vast variety of different recombinant proteins in their native form into the fermentation broth during cultivation. Extracellular production facilitates straightforward purification of recombinant products, eliminates tedious refolding steps and makes the whole manufacturing process more efficient and cost effective, a Wacker spokesman told in-PharmaTechnologist.com. According to the company's website, "Wacker Biotech's experience with therapeutic proteins spans back to the 1980's, when the key focus was on developing interferon alpha. "Biopharmaceuticals have been commercially developed and produced since 1999. Back then, ProThera GmbH was established as a spin-off of the state-owned Hans Knöll Institute in Jena. Wacker Biotech is a wholly-owned Wacker Group subsidiary, operating since early 2005 as the direct successor of ProThera GmbH." ​ Details of biologics manufactured and clients were not disclosed.

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