Argos starts work on $57M plant in North Carolina

Argos Therapeutics' rendering of its planned $57 million facility in Durham, NC--Courtesy of Argos Therapeutics

Argos Therapeutics ($ARGS), which has a personalized immunotherapy drug to treat renal cell carcinoma in trials, has kicked off work on a $57 million manufacturing facility in North Carolina. The biotech will get nearly $10 million in public support for the project.

The 100,000-square-foot facility is being built in the Research Triangle Park area in Durham, NC. Argos grew out of research at Duke University, which is in Durham. In exchange for $9.5 million from a variety of public sources in the state, the drugmaker has agreed to add 236 jobs to the 100 it currently has. The company said it expects to have the plant operational in the first quarter of 2016.

In February, Argos raised $45 million in an initial public offering, short of the $60 million it had hoped to attract, but still enough to further its work on its lead candidate, AGS-003, which uses a patient's own dendritic cells to fight cancer growth, harvesting white blood cells to craft a personalized immunotherapy and then reinjecting it. It is also using its Arcelis technology platform on a new HIV drug it is developing.

North Carolina has built a significant biopharma industry by being generous with its grants and other financial support. Purdue Pharma is building a $59 million plant in Durham and expects the 88,000-square-foot facility to open next year with about 100 employees. The drugmaker is getting a $300,000 grant and other incentives for the project.

India's Glenmark Pharmaceuticals decided on Monroe, NC, for its first production operation in North America. It is getting about $1 million in local, county and state funding to upgrade a 100,000-square-foot building it bought from the city at a discount. It will spend $17 million to build facilities that can manufacture solids, injectables and topicals, with the facility for solids being up first. It has pledged at least 41 new jobs.

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