AGC Bio adding 12,000L of ‘competitive and flexible’ capacity in Denmark

The CDMO will add six 2,000 L single-use bioreactors in Copenhagen and says such a configuration can be competitive compared with an equivalent scale stainless-steel run.

A single-use bioreactor 6Pack suite, consisting of six 2,000 L bioreactors and a 2000 L seed train, is to be installed at AGC Biologics’ biomanufacturing plant in Copenhagen, Denmark.

According to AGC’s chief business officer Robert Broeze, the ‘6pak’ set-up – consisting of the six bioreactors configurated to run consecutively to produce a total working volume of 12,000 L – mirrors a similar facility at the firm’s Bothell, Washington site, which was installed and commissioned in 2015.

“The expansion of our mammalian capacity in Copenhagen will result in similar levels of single use bioreactor mammalian capacity at our Bothell and Copenhagen sites,” he told BioProcess Insider.

“This expansion is for general increased demand for mammalian biomanufacturing to address our needs in 2019 and beyond.”

“A 2000 L run was the largest run that could be achieved with single-use bioreactors,” Broeze told us. “And certainly, until now, 12,000 L single use bioreactor runs have been unheard of in the industry.”

The site in Copenhagen, previously run by CMC Biologics before the firm was acquired by Asahi Glass Company (AGC) in 2016, has previously been equipped with single-use bioreactors from vendo Thermo Fisher, but Broeze did not divulge which company will supply this latest installation. Financial details were also not revealed.

Single-use vs stainless-steel

Single-use technologies have become fully adopted by industry, but there are some concerns that disposable systems cannot be used efficiently for high volume products. While the vendor ABEC offer single-use bioreactors at a scale of up to 4,000 L, generally the upper limit of disposable tech is 2,000 L making them less tempting systems for commercial biologics.

But by running the six 2,000 L bioreactors in configuration, Broeze told us single-use can compete with stainless systems.

“Our pricing for a 12,000 L runs in our Bioreactor 6Pack facility is very competitive with pricing for an equivalent scale stainless steel run.  In addition, the Bioreactor 6Pack configuration offers unique flexibility that is not available in fixed scale stainless steel bioreactors.”

Acquisitions and growth

Asahi Glass Company (AGC) propelled itself into the biologics services space through the acquisition of contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) Biomeva and CMC Biologics.

When the units combined in January 2018 to form AGC Biologics, the firm boasted 44,000 L of microbial and mammalian biomanufacturing capacity from six facilities in the US, Denmark, Germany and Japan.

Since then, the firm has inked manufacturing deals with Portola Pharmaceuticals, MacroGenics and Horizon Pharma.

AGC Bio also announced a new 150,000 square feet building complex at its headquarters in Bothell, Washington, construction of which began in July.

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