Moderna to build $110 million drug plant in Norwood

The Boston Globe | By Robert Weisman
September 21, 2016

Moderna Therapeutics Inc. said Wednesday it will build a $110 million plant in Norwood to produce a portfolio of drugs based on the Cambridge company’s proprietary technology.

The new 200,000-square-foot biomanufacturing facility, scheduled to open in early 2018, will employ more than 200 workers. About 100 will be transferred to Norwood from Moderna’s three existing sites in Kendall Square, while more than 100 others will be hired.

Five-year-old Moderna, which now has about 460 employees, is a pioneer in so-called messenger RNA technology that seeks to stimulate patients’ own cells to produce proteins and antibodies that fight disease. It has signed partnerships with bigger drug makers such as Merck & Co., AstraZeneca PLC, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. to use messenger RNA to jointly develop therapies and vaccines that could treat a wide range of illnesses.

At the Norwood plant, Moderna will produce therapies for clinical trials and eventual commercial use, as well as raw materials and active ingredients used in biomanufacturing.

The company’s unique technology will require a manufacturing process different from that of traditional biotechnology, with smaller lots and more products, said Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel. He said contract manufacturers, which many biotech companies hire to produce their drugs, wouldn’t have the necessary expertise.

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