With plans for a massive plant in China, small Chicago biotech Sparx could be the talk of the town in Yangzhou

Sparx Therapeutics has been in operation for just three years, but the Chicago biotech has big ambitions in its quest to develop and market antibodies to treat solid tumors.

On Thursday Sparx revealed its plan to build a 1,200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Yangzhou, China. The company expects the site to come online by the end of 2022 as it moves toward potential drug launches.

On a 10-acre plot, Sparx will build a 400,000-square-foot cleanroom. With a total bioreactor capacity of 80,000 liters, Sparx said it will be able to simultaneously manufacture five commercial products and support at least 12 programs in clinical trials at various stages of development.

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So far, Sparx has operated in small, in-house facilities in Chicago and China to produce drug substance. To fulfill its mission to market commercial drugs, the biotech needs more space.

With its multi-specific antibody discovery platform, Sparx has identified six investigational new drug candidates. 

The company focuses on multi-specific antibody and antibody drug conjugate platforms, and its tech helped attract Victor Wroblewski, M.D., to be its biology chief. Formerly at Eli Lilly, Wroblewski was instrumental in helping the pharma company develop successful antibody drugs such as Taltz and Trulicity.

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In 2018, Sparx signed an agreement with KPC Pharmaceutical of China to develop a monoclonal antibody against the Claudin 18.2 tight junction protein associated with many diseases including gastric cancers.

Sparx signed a 20-year lease with the Yangzhou Economic Zone for its new factory.