Chicago Biopharma Builds Commercial Facility in China to Focus on Antibody Development

Construction Site

Chicago-based biopharmaceutical firm Sparx Therapeutics has announced that it is expanding its operations into Yangzhou, China, with the imminent construction of a 1.2 million square foot facility for its commercial production. 

The project is under a 20-year lease agreement that Sparx chief executive Gui Dong Zhu signed with the Yangzhou Economic Zone, the property's landlord. 

The manufacturing site is intended to hold a 400,000-square-foot cGMP cleanroom on a 10-acre parcel of land. In a statement, the firm said that the total bioreactor capacity of the facility is 80,000 liters and will be able to support the production requirements of five commercial products in parallel. It is also vast enough to accommodate the CMC needs of over 12 programs undergoing clinical trials at various development stages. 

The new facility will commence construction soon, as the lease was only signed July 8 and is expected to be operational by the end of 2022. 

"The current cGMP pilot plant is not able to meet our development needs and the planned facilities. With a total bioreactor capacity of 80,000 liters, the new site will provide sufficient quantities of drug substances and drug products to support preclinical and clinical development and, ultimately, commercial launch," Dr. Zhu was quoted as saying. 

Sparx is well-known for its work involving multi-specific antibody and antibody drug conjugate discovery platforms. The company uses artificial intelligence (AI) to drive its target mining engine, allowing scientists to identify cellular targets that can be best leveraged for synergistic biological activity. This is then combined with SAILING, an integrated multi-component antibody optimization system, and four ADC technologies to improve the success rate of drug development. 

Since its incorporation in 2018, the firm has built two technologies, LEMMAb and SMARTOP, to expedite the discovery of multi-functional biologics that show promising drug-like properties. 

LEMMAb is short for Linker Enhanced Mono-chained Multi-specific Antibody and is Sparx's tech platform that utilizes natural IgG with Fc to create bispecific and multi-specific antibodies for use in drug research and development. 

SMARTOP, Symmetric Multispecific Antibodies with Relative-affinities fine-Tuned by phage Off-rate and PH-selections, is another tech platform with similar features as LEMMAb that focuses on finding treatment solutions for tumor-related conditions.

"The global pharmaceutical market is growing with strength and empowered antibody discovery is taking the center stage in driving these efforts"," added Dr. Zhu.

At present, it has GMP facilities in both Chicago and China.

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