Australian CDMO Luina Bio plots biologics manufacturing upgrades big and small

Queensland Australia
Luina thinks its boosted capacity for bacterial and yeast recombinant projects may lead to vaccine manufacturing deals, including those targeting COVID-19. (RobertDowner/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Australian contract research and manufacturing organization Luina Bio is teeing up multiple projects to grow its biologics capacity. Five new site expansions are expected to open by year-end, with construction on a new manufacturing facility set to round out the expansion in late 2021. 

By the end of next year, the CDMO aims to commission a 10,000-square-meter (107,639-square-foot) late-stage clinical and commercial production facility, the company said in a release (PDF). The plant will come equipped with five parallel production lines, expected to shorten production time on multiple-strain biologic drug projects. Luina also plans to outfit the facility with its largest, 2,000-liter reactor.

The company hasn't publicly disclosed the financial investment it's making in the new site, CEO Les Tillack said in an email. 

Luina will also roll out new technologies at the site to cut downstream processing time for live biologics and bacterial recombinant biotherapy projects, the company said. It's hoping to put the new facility in Queensland, where the company is based, but Luina is in talks with a number of overseas locations, too, Tillack said. 

The company hopes its expanded capacity for bacterial and yeast recombinant projects could open the door to vaccine manufacturing work, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The company already has the cGMP capabilities to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine, Tillack said in a release, and could deploy its larger capacity to help Australia respond to the current coronavirus crisis and prep for future pandemics.

The biotech is in talks for five different COVID-19 projects, Tillack said, in a range of stages from pre-clinical to phase 2. 

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Ahead of the 2021 commercial facility, Luina will kick off its expansion spree with a small-scale, 30-liter manufacturing suite, slated to start taking orders by the end of this month.  

Before the year is out, Luina also plans to launch four new process development labs that leverage its newly unveiled Luina Flexible Manufacturing Platform, designed to speed up and provide technical support for microbiome and recombinant protein projects. That quartet of labs is expected to support capacity up to 500 liters, Luina said. 

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Overall, the expansions are slated to add up to 300 new jobs, with some of those hires taking place immediately to staff Luina's process development site, Tillack said. 

Meanwhile, Luina in July was selected to partner with the fellow Queensland, Australia-based company XING Technologies to co-develop and manufacture a COVID-19 antigen test. Luina is on the hook to manufacture protein reagents central to the XING diagnostic kit.