Rubius Therapeutics kicks off $155M renovation of former Alexion plant in Rhode Island

Red blood cells
Rubius Therapeutics, which is developing Red Cell Therapeutics technology, has begun a $155 million renovation of a former Alexion facility that was shuttered last year. (Wikimedia Commons)

Rubius Therapeutics kicked off a $155 million renovation of the former Alexion manufacturing facility in Rhode Island that was shuttered last year.

Rubius, which was founded in 2013 and is focused on treatments for cancer and other diseases using a technology dubbed Red Cell Therapeutics, said the investment in the renovations will roll out over the next five years for the existing 135,000-square-foot facility in Smithfield, R.I.

The new facility will employ about 160 new positions versus the 250 full-time positions that were eliminated when Alexion announced it was closing the plant last year.

Rubius announced earlier this year it was purchasing the plant from Alexion for an undisclosed price.

While operated by Alexion, the facility produced Soliris, which was deemed the most expensive drug on the market. Costing as much as $400,000 a year, Soliris treats the life-threatening blood disorder paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, a disease that only affects about 8,000 Americans.

Alexion had a history of manufacturing lapses at the plant going back to 2013 when the FDA issued its first of several warning letters concerning operations at the facility.