Thermo Fisher expands viral vector services in MA and FL

Thermo Fisher expanded plant in Florida and will open a site in Lexington, Massachusetts as part of plans to invest $125 million in its gene therapy capabilities following the acquisition of Brammer Bio.

The life sciences firm has completed a $6 million (€5.5 million) expansion at its Alachua, Florida facility, doubling laboratory and warehousing capacity for upstream process development and quality control testing of gene therapy products at the site.

“The expansion of this site will allow for more at scale development, enabling better technology transfer to GMP and increasing the probability for success for our customers’ gene therapy products,” the company told Bioprocess Insider.

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“The expansion will ultimately enable our customers to bring more advanced medicines to patients.”

The Alachua site has grown to keep up with the high demand for viral vector services as more gene therapies move into and through the clinic.

“As the site has expanded, our headcount has continued to grow – from 100 employees in 2016 to 250 today,” we were told. “We are looking forward to the site’s continued growth and expanded opportunities for existing employees and the recruitment of new talent throughout 2020 and 2021.”

Alachua was one of two production facilities Thermo Fisher picked up when it acquired Brammer Bio earlier this year. The $1.7 billion (€1.5 billion) deal added a gene therapy contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) to Thermo Fisher’s life science arsenal.

Weeks later, the firm upped its 2019 capital expenditure guidance to incorporate an extra $125 million earmarked to expand Brammer Bio’s capabilities and grow its viral vector capabilities.

While the $6 million investment at Alachua represents a slim slice of this allotment, Thermo Fisher told us a site in Cambridge, Massachusetts is being expanded and a new viral vector services facility in Lexington, Massachusetts is set to open.

All of these fall under a three-year, $200 million investment program begun by Brammer Bio in 2018, which once completed will give the CDMO over 30 suites for clinical and commercial viral vector supply.