Octapharma opens €25m recombinant research facility


Provides a laboratory and office space for up to 120 people in Heidelberg

Octapharma, a manufacturer of human proteins headquartered in Switzerland, has opened a €25m research facility dedicated to recombinant protein drug development at its Octapharma Biopharmaceuticals subsidiary in Heidelberg, Germany.

Octapharma takes a human-to-human approach to recombinant protein development, which it says sets it apart from products based on animal derived cell lines.

Octapharma Biopharmaceuticals was founded in 1997 in Munich and had outgrown its original site. Although alternatives in Munich were considered, the new premises on the Heidelberg Technology Park place it in the heart of a scientific cluster close to medical and clinical establishments including the German Cancer Research Centre (the DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital.

Ulrich Thibaut, board member of r&d at Octapharma, said the new research facility resembles a ship, with a glass bow, going forward into new frontiers.

‘Our new location in Heidelberg will strengthen our footprint in one of the most important biotech clusters in Germany,’ he said.

The new 10,000m2 building will be home to innovative research in human recombinant technology, and also to the development of the clinical production of these new products. The 6m high space allows for scaling up to 1,000 litre fermenters for production. Currently employing 46 people, Octapharma Biopharmaceuticals now has laboratory and office space for up to 120 staff.

Wolfgang Marguerre, founder and chairman of Octapharma, said: ‘I feel very proud that we are focusing these key research activities in this excellent university city. The groundbreaking work being carried out here will have international reach.’

Carola Schröder, general manager of Octapharma Biopharmaceuticals, added: ‘Through the use of human cell lines we aim to create more compatible medicines with improved tolerability and reduced immunogenicity. As a modern alternative to plasma products these innovative medicines will be used in the treatment of patients including those with haemophilia. One project in the preclinical stage uses this recombinant technology to develop supportive therapy to restore the immune system after tumour patients have undergone chemotherapy.’

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Octapharma employs almost 5,000 people in 28 countries and has sales of approximately b1bn. It has five production facilities in Austria, France, Germany, Sweden and Mexico.