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UCB opens biotech plant in Belgium

100 jobs created as pharma firm plans to expand its focus on biologics

UCB headquarters

UCB has launched a new biotech facility in its home country of Belgium in attempt to take advantage of a growing biologics focus within pharma.

Coming at a cost of more than €65m, the facility is based at its existing Braine-l'Alleud site and was formally opened at a ceremony attended by the region's mayor Vincent Scourneau and members of the Walloon government.

It will be 2013 before the plant is fully operational, however, with a validation phase ongoing. When the site is up and running, UCB expects to employ 100 staff.

“Braine-L'Alleud is at the heart of UCB's innovation strategy,” said the company's CEO Roch Doliveux, acknowledging the company's existing 18 buildings across the entire site.

“The proactive policy followed by Belgium and its regions to stimulate pharmaceutical activity, coupled with the presence of a highly skilled workforce, is creating a favourable climate for such investments.”

UCB is expecting the plant to enable a more rapid development of clinical studies of new antibody-based therapeutics for serious unmet medical needs, with potential therapies for ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythematosus and osteoporosis cited as possibilities in its biotech plans.

These would follow in the footsteps of approved biologic Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), which is available for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, with CEO Doliveux noting that one of third of drugs for human use are of a biotech origin.

When operational, the plant will function as a 'pilot facility', meaning it will develop UCB's molecules for use in the research and clinical trial phases of development.

The facility includes multiple fermentation reactors as well as laboratories and infrastructure to house a production team.

“The plant is central to our efforts to plan for the future and will enable us to meet growing demand for 'biological' therapies and reflects our ongoing investment in R&D,” said France Nivelle, global communications and change support, UCB.

17th September 2012

From: Research

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