Abzena Plans $200 Million Manufacturing Biologics Facility in N.C.


Abzena is opening another manufacturing site, its sixth in a global network. This morning, the partner research organization announced it would build a $200 million facility in Sanford, N.C.

The new GMP manufacturing facility was driven by an increase in customer demand for commercial scale 2000L single use bioreactors across a wide range of therapeutic areas, Abzena said in its announcement. The facility in Sanford, located outside of the Research Triangle Park area, will be dedicated to cGMP manufacturing capacity for mammalian biologics.

Abzena said the Sanford facility would generate approximately 325 jobs. According to the office of N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, the aggregate average salary of the new positions will be $63,308. The current average wage in Lee County, where Sanford is located, is $42,516. 

The facility is being designed to support the manufacturing of biologics for Phase III programs and commercial availability. 

The construction will occur in multiple phases and will initially allow for four modular suites, Abzena said. Each suite will include up to two 2000L bioreactors. The initial phase will be followed by the addition of two other 2000L suites.

In addition, the Sanford site will be equipped to handle existing and new advances in manufacturing such as continuous manufacturing and perfusion, the company said. Abzena said the site is expected to be operational and begin CMP manufacturing in mid-2022. 

Abzena Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Goldman said the goal of the new facility in Sanford is to support the company’s partners and the patients they serve with Abzena’s latest manufacturing services expansion. 

“We are pleased to provide integrated asset development with a full suite of in-house services from discovery through clinical and commercial phases without the need for technology transfer. We are very pleased to be welcomed by North Carolina,” Goldman said in a statement. 

Last year, the company expanded its San Diego manufacturing operations with a new $60 million facility for Phase III and commercial cGMP manufacturing. The new site in San Diego was established to support a Phase I, Phase II manufacturing facility already in the area. 

Abzena’s N.C. expansion is supported by a Job Development Investment Grant from the state’s Economic Investment Committee. Over the 12-year term of this grant, the project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by $1.5 billion, Cooper’s office said.

Kimball Hall, president and chief operating officer for the company, touted North Carolina for a skilled workforce and other resources that make the state a welcome partner. 

“This will ensure we continue to offer our partners a site with advanced technologies and a world-class workforce,” Hall said in a statement. “We are looking forward to establishing Abzena as a new life sciences partner in North Carolina.”

Abzena’s announcement comes weeks after FujiFilm announced plans for a $2 billion cell culture biopharmaceutical production facility in Holly Springs, N.C., a town outside of the capital city of Raleigh. The facility is set to become operational in 2025. It is also expected to create up to 725 skilled jobs with an average salary of $95,000 by the end of 2028. 

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