Edinburgh team leading the way in personalised cancer vaccines

The Almac Group provides a range of development and manufacturing services to the global pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets, including supply and distribution of materials for clinical trials.
Edinburgh team leading the way in personalised cancer vaccines - Knowledge factory

Being in Edinburgh is great for us because, on top of good local recruitment, the site is surrounded by academic institutions and other science parks.

Alastair Hay, Almac Group

The Almac Group is headquartered in Northern Ireland, and has over 5,000 employees worldwide across 17 facilities in the US, Europe and Asia. The company has an unusual ownership, with no shareholders or investors. Instead, it is owned by a charitable institution – the McClay Foundation – set up by Almac founder Sir Allen McClay, and all the profits are reinvested into the company. In 2004, Almac established a presence in Edinburgh through the acquisition of Albachem, a company with expertise in the manufacture of small proteins for pharmaceutical research.

Today, Almac offers a range of protein manufacturing services in Edinburgh, generating custom products for universities, biotechs and large pharma companies, as well as providing tech transfer from lab-scale processes to large-scale manufacturing. More recently, the company has become the first GMP­accredited lab to produce personalised cancer vaccines for clinical trials. Alastair Hay, Account Manager – Peptides, explained: “This is an exciting new era for oncology. Typically, it takes around 14 weeks to manufacture one peptide for clinical use, but these peptides are needed much faster. To achieve this, we brought together a team – recruited from within the company and the local talent pool – who could make peptides really quickly, and had the mindset to do it. We can now produce about 20 peptides within three weeks. Despite this, the core methodologies for peptide manufacturing can still be traced back to the company’s academic roots in Edinburgh, and the first employee of the original company is still with us!”

Investment in its protein manufacturing services led to Almac outgrowing its previous facility, and so it relocated to the Edinburgh Technopole site in 2015. The site not only allows the company to meet its current workload demands, but also provides space for future growth. Alastair added: “When we moved to the Technopole, many of the services were in place, but we had a lot of bespoke requirements, and needed to reconfigure the space to suited our business. The Technopole team were able to quickly resolve any challenges and we have a very good relationship with them. Being in Edinburgh is great for us because, on top of good local recruitment, the site is surrounded by academic institutions and other science parks. This means there’s a good core of companies in the area that use our services, because we’re only a stone’s throw away. Above all, it’s great to be in a biotech hub recognised for hosting high tech companies.”

To learn more about the Almac Group, visit www.almacgroup.com

 

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