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26 April 2022

Scorpion Biological Services’ Large Molecule Biomanufacturing Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, US

Scorpion Biological Services’ new CDMO facility in Manhattan, Kansas, will focus on biodefence.
Scorpion Biological Services is planning to build a new biomanufacturing facility in Manhattan, Kansas. Credit: Greater Manhattan Partnership.
The 500,000ft² (46,451.5m²) manufacturing facility will be a full-service CDMO. Credit: Greater Manhattan Partnership.
Scorpion Biological Services will invest $650m in the new facility. Credit: Greater Manhattan Partnership.

Scorpion Biological Services (Scorpion), a subsidiary of Heat Biologics, has proposed the development of a new large molecule and biologics biomanufacturing facility in Manhattan, Kansas, US.

Heat Biologics is a biopharmaceutical company based in the US. In April 2022, the company announced that it will be renamed NightHawk Biosciences, effective 03 May 2022.

Announced in April 2022, the project is expected to involve an investment of $650m. It is also estimated that it will generate 500 new jobs in Manhattan over the next seven years. Ground-breaking of the facility is expected to take place in autumn 2022.

The plant will enhance the domestic production of vital biologics. Scorpion expects to meet the rising demand for world-class biomanufacturing through the new facility.

The project is supported by the Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas State University, Kansas State University Innovation Partners, Pottawatomie County, City of Manhattan, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Pottawatomie County Economic Development, and Manhattan Area Technical College.

Location of Scorpion’s new biologics manufacturing facility

The new biologics manufacturing facility will be built near Manhattan in Pottawatomie County, off US Highway 24 and at the north-east corner of Excel Road.

The project site is currently owned by Midwest Concrete Materials, and the sale is pending approval.

Manhattan was selected as the location of the facility due to the concentration of biodefence assets in the area. It houses Kansas State University’s Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) and will also be home to the not-yet-completed US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF).

Scorpion will collaborate with the faculty of BRI to start research before the completion of the Kansas plant. It also plans to hire employees from Kansas State University and Manhattan Area Technical College, as well as military veterans from the US Army’s Fort Riley military installation in the Flint Hills Region of Kansas.

Details of Scorpion’s new biologics manufacturing facility

Spanning 500,000ft² (46,451.5m²), the proposed manufacturing facility will be used to support the development of commercial-scale biologics and large molecules. It will be equipped with research, development and manufacturing capabilities for vaccines.

The facility will mainly focus on biodefence and support the development of vaccines to provide quick responses to global biological threats.

Heat Biologics will relocate the manufacturing of ANTHIM® (obiltoxaximab), a treatment for inhalation anthrax, to the Kansas facility.

The manufacturing plant will allow the company to scale up the production of ANTHIM as well as RapidVax®, a cellular vaccine platform. RapidVax enables rapid plug-and-play programming and stockpiling for the targeting of emerging biological threats, such as infectious agents and viral mutations.

Furthermore, the facility is proposed to be operated as a full-service contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO). It will provide commercial-scale development, manufacturing and bioanalytical testing services of biopharmaceutical products to companies in the healthcare industry.

It will feature 48 bioreactors with a combined current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) capacity of up to 144,000l.

The facility will be built with independent suites for mammalian and microbial production. Single-use bioreactors and stainless steel production tanks will be installed across four production phases.

Financing

The City of Manhattan, State of Kansas, Pottawatomie County, Kansas State University and Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce negotiated an economic development package to fund the development of the facility in April 2022.

The package comprises industrial revenue bonds worth $567m, with sales tax exemption for construction materials, a property tax exemption for ten years, and a forgivable loan worth $8m.

The loan component is dependent on the fulfilment of conditions that include capital investment, jobs, wages and benefits.

In April 2022, the Manhattan City Commission adopted a resolution that contains a proposal to offer economic development incentives provided by the City of Manhattan for the project, as part of the economic development package.

Contractors involved

The facility is being designed and engineered by CRB Group, an engineering, architecture, construction and consulting solutions provider based in the US.

Realty Trust Group (RTG), a healthcare real estate advisory firm, is the lead developer of the project.

Marketing commentary

Scorpion is a contract research and CDMO company. Its primary focus areas are cell and gene-based therapies and large molecule biologics. Its parent company, Heat Biologics, is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that develops novel biodefence assets and first-in-class therapies to modify the immune response of patients.

Scorpion provides services, such as biologic manufacturing, analytical, and research and development (R&D), to pharmaceutical and biotech companies to help advance their new therapies.

It also provides cGMP contract manufacturing services to customers for cell therapy products, such as cells and exosome/secretome products. The company’s manufacturing scope includes therapeutic proteins, vectors, and vaccines produced in mammalian and microbial systems.

The company uses a range of equipment, such as mammalian cell culture bioreactors of 50l, 200l, 500l, 1,000l and 2,000l as well as a 50l microbial fermentation reactor.

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