Biogen, a global neurological biotechnical research and development company with locations around the globe, is developing therapies for Alzheimer’s disease in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park (RTP), the largest research hub in the U.S. In 2017, Biogen charged a design-build team led by contractor, DPR Construction, to upgrade their RTP plant to increase their capacity to manufacture Aducanumab, an investigational drug developed to address the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurological illness that affects millions of people worldwide. The award-winning LSM 3X Capacity Upgrades project laid the foundation for the 2019 RTP DS LSM Upgrade, further expanding Biogen’s capabilities to produce potentially lifechanging therapies in the journey to eradicate the effects of Alzheimer’s.

The primary goal of the 2019 upgrade was to debottleneck one of the plant’s purification suites by installing new in-line dilution Low Pressure Chromatography (LPC) skids and associated improvements to Buffer Hold, Buffer Prep, and Product Hold, Ultrafiltration (UF) Retentate and Bulk Hold vessel capacities. Additional upstream modifications allowed for Perfusion processes by adding an advanced perfusion skid and advanced controlling and monitoring instrumentation to the Train 2 Bioreactors. Changes to the Media Prep area improved Filter Transfer Station (FTS) functionality and added CIP vent filter capabilities. The completion of the plant upgrades amid the novel COVID-19 pandemic was an epic feat by the project team who not only finished the 14-week project under the approved budget, but also six days ahead of the final schedule.

DPR’s self-perform tradespeople were an integral part of the project team installing cleanroom wall panels, drywall, doors frames and hardware, and temporary partitions. DPR's capability to self-perform these scopes of work allowed for schedule assurance due to the sporadic timing of the shutdown process and not having to rely on a subcontracted workforce that may or may not have been available on short notice. The avoidance of mobilization charges also helped keep the project under-budget.

The Biogen 2019 RTP DS LSM Upgrade was more than a project – it was a project with a purpose. The facility now produces potentially lifechanging therapies for Alzheimer disease patients. This awareness shaped the cultural mindset of the team from the start and drove the implementation of several innovative processes to make sure they were not just upgrading a facility for today, but a facility that would stand the test of time.

Awards

  • Bentley Systems Winners of Year in Infrastructure Award (2020)
    Bentley Systems
  • ENR Southeast Best Projects (2020)
    Engineering News-Record

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