Virus cripples Genzyme plant

With its manufacturing plant out of commission being decontaminated, Genzyme has said the virus causing the contamination might have come from an unnamed vendor.

The plant, just outside Boston, is used to make Cerezyme and Fabrazyme, treatments for Gaucher disease and Fabry disease, respectively. It is expected to be closed until late July, according to the Boston Globe.

The Globe was among many news outlets providing extensive, ongoing coverage of the closure, despite the difficulties of explaining bioprocess complexities to a lay audience. In one report, it included an interactive of the manufacturing process containing a surprising amount of detail for a daily newspaper.

The virus strain, Vesivirus 2117, probably interfered with the growth of the Chinese hamster ovary cells used in biologics production, says a company announcement. It was likely introduced through a nutrient used in the manufacturing process.

The virus is known to Genzyme: It was the cause of declines in cell productivity at two of the company's plants last year, including the currently disabled facility.

Company shares dropped 7 percent following the event. Genzyme said existing supplies will need to be rationed.

- here's the Genzyme press release
- see the initial Boston Globe report
- here's the Globe's interactive graphic