Evonik to build $220 mln U.S. production site for mRNA lipids
German chemicals group Evonik is building a new, highly flexible, global-scale production facility for pharmaceutical lipids, winning considerable U.S. government backing for the $220 million investment.
Lipids, molecules that make up the building blocks of living cells, are critical to producing mRNA-based drugs. The mRNA is enclosed in a lipid nanoparticle (LNP) composed of specific lipids. The LNP protects the mRNA and delivers it safely into the cell, where it is released. LNPs are currently the most advanced drug delivery system and have gained worldwide acceptance in the fight against COVID-19 due to their versatility.
The new plant at Evonik's Tippecanoe site in Lafayette, Indiana, will broadly position the Group for future growth in novel mRNA-based therapies beyond COVID-19 vaccines and strengthen its leading role as a strategic partner for innovative pharmaceutical companies worldwide. Construction will begin in early 2023, and the plant is scheduled to go onstream in 2025. The investment into the lipid facility will help create more than 80 highly skilled jobs in the Lafayette region.
The total investment amounts to US$220 million. The U.S. Government is funding the facility with up to US$150 million through its Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Construction will begin in early 2023, and the plant is scheduled to go onstream in 2025. The investment into the lipid facility will help create more than 80 highly skilled jobs in the Lafayette region.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Evonik made a crucial contribution by providing lipids to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and vaccination campaigns worldwide. mRNA serves as a carrier of genetic information in cells. It can be designed for a broad range of pharmacological applications. mRNA vaccines, for example, teach cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response.
Evonik recognized the potential of gene-based therapeutic approaches early on and made targeted investments in this technology back in 2016 with the acquisition of the Canadian company Transferra Nanosciences. Evonik's laboratories in Vancouver focus on developing lipid-based, parenteral drug formulations, including LNPs and liposomes. Evonik expanded its portfolio in 2020 with the acquisition of Wilshire Technologies, an American manufacturer of plant-based excipients for the pharmaceutical industry. Excipients are non-pharmaceutically active ingredients and, as in case of lipids, can play a crucial role to help the APIs to reach the designation in the body.
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