UCB, a global biopharmaceutical company, today announced it will build an innovative and environmentally sustainable gene therapy process development and clinical manufacturing facility on their high-tech campus in Braine l’Alleud, Wallonia, Belgium. The new facility, representing an investment of more than 200 million euros over the coming years, is expected to be operational in 2024. Construction is due to start in the second quarter of 2022.
Recent years has seen a significant evolution in the gene therapy field and today it’s regarded as an exciting modality that can drive a fundamental change in how diseases are treated, enabling a move from treating symptoms to disease modification and eventually towards a cure in defined patient populations. But producing viral vectors (the delivery vehicles of gene therapies) remains challenging due to currently highly inefficient manufacturing processes, poorly characterized products, and scarce high-cost third party development and manufacturing capacity. So internal process and analytical development capabilities and seamless and flexible clinical manufacturing, are being recognized as critical success factors in the development of gene therapies.
Speaking about the new facility Dr. Kirsten Lund-Jurgensen, Executive Vice President and Head of Supply & Technology Solutions at UCB said, “Upon completion of our new gene therapy development and clinical manufacturing facility, UCB will have complete ownership and control of its chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) capabilities, this will enable agility, flexibility, unparalleled product and process understanding, scalability, and yield improvements, all translating to a significant competitive advantage for UCB and a smart investment in the technologically evolving gene therapy landscape.”
Once construction is complete the 17,000 square meter facility will expand UCBs innovation footprint, which includes sites in Belgium, China, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, US, and UK as well as offering accelerated career development for current employees and creating more than 100 new and highly skilled jobs in gene therapy.
“From ground-breaking scientific innovation to high-tech manufacturing, our Braine campus is already home to a thriving and dynamic community of scientists, technicians, engineers, and manufacturing personnel,” said Dhaval Patel, Executive Vice President and UCB’s Chief Scientific Officer at UCB. He added, “With the addition of the new gene therapy facility, along with our UCB Leuven site, we will make the Braine Campus one of the most exciting places, in Belgium, for innovative minds and people who are determined to push beyond the boundaries of what’s possible and change patients’ lives for the better.”
The addition of our new facility reinforces our gene therapy teams currently concentrated in Braine and Leuven (Belgium), and Boston and Durham (US).
In the context of UCB’s sustainability approach, the new facility will support our carbon neutrality ambition, by implementing the most recent technologies, being BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) certified and aiming to drastically reduce both resource consumption and waste production.