Swiss CDMO Lonza recently opened the world’s biggest manufacturing plant to produce custom viruses for use in cell and gene therapies. The facility, based in the Houston suburb of Pearland, will enable Lonza to meet the growing global demand for the viruses required by researchers, and assertively positions Lonza as a market leader in the cell and gene therapy space.
The Lonza Houston Center of Excellence is already up and running, with manufacturing operations for several clients already in production. The facility is expected to employ over 200 full-time employees by the end of 2018 and is one of Lonza’s four “Centers of Excellence for Cell and Gene Therapy” worldwide, alongside sites in the Netherlands, Singapore and New Hampshire, USA.
The new plant offers fully-integrated access to Lonza’s cutting-edge cell and gene therapy manufacturing technologies and process improvements. Andreas Weiler, business unit head for Emerging Technologies at Lonza Pharma & Biotech, states that the facility “will serve as a centre of excellence for cell-and-gene-therapy process development from concept through pre-clinical, clinical and commercialisation, all the way to the patient.”
Vector Shortage & Growing Demand
In recent years a shortage of necessary engineered viral vectors has caused a bottleneck in the cell and gene therapy industry, with some researchers reporting delays of up to 2 years for the production of a batch of viral vectors. Based on the current pipeline of cell and gene therapies currently in development, Lonza predicts that these vectors will remain in high demand in the coming years.