In line with its strategy, and in preparation for the growing demand for biological medicines, UCB, a biopharma focused on the central nervous system and immune system, has opened its new pilot biotechnology plant at its Braine-L’Alleud site in Belgium.
The 5,100 square meter plant—a pilot facility—will include one hundred employees, most of whom will have received high quality training support. It comprises four bioreactors with a total capacity of 3,200 liters. It will also include multiple fermentation reactors, as well as integrated laboratories and additional infrastructure to house a focused new production team.
The plant will produce cell culture-based therapeutic proteins and is dedicated to accelerating the availability of new biotechnology drugs for severe diseases. The facility will focus on developing UCB’s molecules in the research and clinical trial phases. At the same time, manufacturing processes will be designed and optimized to move from development to full scale industrial production.
“By reinforcing its presence in biotechnology, UCB is equipping itself for the future,” said Roch Doliveux, CEO of UCB. “Today, 33% of drugs for human use worldwide are of biotechnological origin and represent more than half of UCB’s current R&D pipeline. With this bio pilot plant, we will more rapidly initiate clinical studies of new antibody-based therapeutics that are addressing serious unmet medical needs. ”
The entire biotechnology pilot plant project represents an investment by UCB of more than $85 million, supported by the Walloon region. The new plant is currently undergoing a validation phase, which is being carried out alongside the regulatory authorities, and it will become fully operational during the course of 2013.