Biomedex considers cleanroom at LSI

MARCH 18–GRESHAM, Ore. — A bioscience company hopes is trying to catch the eyes of potential investors with a new biopharmaceutical plant in east Multnomah County.

The firm, Biomedex, is evaluating an existing cleanroom on the LSI Logic campus. DuPont Photomasks built the plant on land leased from LSI Logic. But due to a semiconductor industry downturn, DuPont never put equipment in the plant and put it up for sale in August 2001.

The Biomedex project would employ more than 100 trained workers at wages starting at about $55,000, a company representative told a group of manufacturers and government leaders who held a recent “summit” at the DuPont building.

The plant would mainly be a “scale up” facility, Biomedex technology director Jim Thompson said. Experimental amounts of biomedicines developed elsewhere would be flown to an airport near the site. Workers would grow enough of the medicine to be used in clinical trials.

Thompson said the medicine industry faces an extreme shortage of such facilities. It has less than half the mammal cell culture production capacity that it is expected to need in 2005 and 2006, and less than a sixth of the capacity needed for monoclonal antibodies within six to seven years, according to industry studies cited by Thompson.

The big obstacle, Thompson said, is the lack of venture capital coming to Oregon. This project would be costly — about $25 million to $75 million, including an estimated $11 million to buy the building from DuPont, Thompson said.

Another problem is fitting large stainless steel fermenting tanks and other equipment into the existing DuPont building. The company has hired engineers to see if that is possible. If not, Thompson said Biomedex is already looking at nearby land where it could build its own building.


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