Irish pharma research company APC has announced a major expansion that will see it establish a vaccine manufacturing facility at Cherrywood in south Dublin.
The €25 million investment by the Dublin company comes as a Covid-19 vaccine it is developing with Australian group Vaxine enters phase-2 clinical trials. The company says the investment will accelerate the development and manufacture of Covid vaccines and other advanced drug therapies. It expects to create 120 jobs.
APC describes itself as a medicines accelerator – a company that helps other pharma groups fast-track drug development. It was founded in 2011 by Dr Mark Barrett and Prof Brian Glennon and later spun out of UCD.
Around a third of the €25 million will be invested in expanding lab space at the company’s existing site in Cherrywood, adding about 12,000 square feet to the existing 60,000 square foot available. APC said this would support the acceleration of research into Covid-19 vaccines and other advanced therapeutics.
It is expected to be fully operational this month and will see 50 new jobs added to the 140 highly-skilled personnel on site.
APC is also announcing the creation of a new business – VLE Therapeutics Ltd – which will focus on the manufacture of vaccines and also cell and gene therapies. The company will put €17 million into this new venture.
“This will be the first Irish-owned facility expressly designed to provide Ireland and Europe with a local supply chain for these critical medicines,” the company said. It aims to transform the time and cost it takes to produce vaccines and other new medicines.
The company says it will have a new manufacturing facility in place by the end of the year with capacity to deliver up to 50 million vaccine doses annually, involving the recruitment of another 70 people.
VLE intends to build its own manufacturing facility, also in Cherrywood, by the end of 2023. This 80,000 square foot space would, it said, “provide a world-class platform for the drug substance and drug product clinical and commercial manufacture of a wide range of vaccines and advanced therapeutics with dose capacity in the hundreds of millions”.
Group chief executive Dr Mark Barrett said the investment was the “culmination of our ambition for an Irish company to stand tall and contribute, on both the national and global stage, to the development and manufacture of Covid vaccines and other critical advanced therapeutics”.
“Ireland is a global powerhouse for pharma manufacturing and we believe our technological advancements can work hand-in-hand with this track record to accelerate the development and manufacture of these critical vaccines and advanced therapeutics for people in Ireland, Europe and around the world,” Dr Barrett said.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the investment positioned Ireland as a key contributor to the research and manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines and other critical advanced therapeutics.
“Today’s investment will make APC the world’s first ‘medicine accelerator’, a place where molecules get to market at record speed through science-led expertise combined with digital innovation. This is set to revolutionise how medicines are developed and delivered to patients.
“The fact that this is all happening in Ireland, thanks to the work of a 100 per cent Irish owned company, is testament to the wealth of talent and vision we have here in this country in the biotech and pharmaceutical space.
“It is remarkable to think that, thanks to APC and VLE, Ireland will shortly have the capacity to manufacture hundreds of millions of vaccine doses a year, a move that is set to be totally transformative not just for patients, but for the entire sector, at both a domestic and international level.”
On the map
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the announcement would put Ireland on the map as a significant producer of vaccines, including the lifesaving Covid-19 vaccine.
Enterprise Ireland chief executive Leo Clancy said APC had an "exceptional track record, delivering game changing disruptive technology to the largest global pharma and biopharma companies in the world to optimise and accelerate the development and production of medicines, including vaccines".
He said the announcement further strengthened Ireland’s position “in the global value chain of vaccine development and manufacturing”.
In addition to Covid-19 vaccine research and manufacture, APC is working on more than 20 medicines for other disease areas, including a variety of cancers, respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV.
The company has worked with eight of the top 10 pharmaceutical groups worldwide and five of the top 10 biotech companies.