Board of Regents votes to begin construction on National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing

March 26, 2010
| By: Aubrey Bloom

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents today voted to begin construction on the flexible-by-design National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing, a revolutionary bio-pharmaceutical research, development, training and production facility that will be under the management of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). When completed, it will provide rapid, cost-effective and scalable manufacturing and enable an array of new products to enter clinical trials.

"The NCTM will set the standard for a new generation of multi-product, multi-technology, flexible pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities," said Dr. Brett Giroir, vice chancellor for research and executive director of the Institute for Innovative Therapeutics (IIT), the newly established institute representing the partnership between the system’s multiple state-of-the-art research facilities.

The facility’s flexible-by-design architecture and reconfigurable clean rooms will allow for continuous operation and surge capacity, while accommodating multiple production technology platforms and products. In addition to the eventual ability to mass-produce in the case of an epidemic or bioterrorist attack, this development model also will make possible the creation of drugs and vaccines on a smaller, targeted scale, providing protection against so-called orphan diseases, whose reduced prevalence often has made further study cost-prohibitive.

"The partnership of the NCTM with the other IIT facilities (the Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studies and Texas A&M Institute for Genomic Medicine) creates an unmatched comprehensive biomedical research enterprise capable of taking products from the fundamental research stage through to the production process," Giroir said. "It will serve as a global hub for research into biologics manufacturing, process optimization and other disciplines that will change forever the way drugs and vaccines are produced."

The NCTM initially will focus on therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer. The recently announced Project Greenvax, funded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, will utilize the NCTM’s state-of-the-art flexible manufacturing capabilities to accelerate the nation’s ability to develop and produce vaccines. The Center will serve as the operational prototype for a new generation of manufacturing facilities producing required vaccines, antibodies and therapeutic proteins to protect against naturally emerging pathogens and intentional biological attacks.

"The NCTM exemplifies the Texas A&M System’s commitment to public service through education and research," said Dr. Michael Pishko, head of Texas A&M’s Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, who will lead the NCTM team. "This facility will not only serve as a global leader in pharmaceutical research and production, but as the cornerstone for undergraduate and graduate training of the future professionals to lead this new biotechnology revolution."

Construction of the NCTM’s headquarters facility, funded as a core strategic program by the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, is scheduled for completion in December 2011. The Center will operate under the management of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), a state of Texas research agency that is a member of the A&M System.

About the A&M System

The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $3.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates nearly 115,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research expenditures exceed $730 million and help drive the state’s economy.

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