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Biopharmaceutical Firm to Produce Cancer Vaccine at Expanded Minn. Facility

Company received $1.5 million in state and local financing to help with the expansion.

Tampa, Fla.-based Biovest International Inc. will expand its biomanufacturing facility in Coon Rapids, Minn., to produce a vaccine designed to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The company secured $1.5 million in loans from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the city of Coon Rapids, and real estate developer JMS Holdings LLC to support the initial expansion of Biovest's existing 35,000-square-foot facility.

As part of the financing agreement, Biovest has committed to create at least 14 new high-paying jobs within the next two years, including biomanufacturing professionals, production managers, quality-control and quality-assurance experts, engineers and technical personnel.

For nearly 30 years, Biovest has leased its cell-culture center in Coon Rapids, where the company has produced biologics for clients as a contract manufacturer, while also manufacturing and marketing its line of hollow-fiber bioreactor instruments. Biovest formerly operated the facility as the National Cell Culture Center for its client, the National Institutes of Health.

"Today marks a significant milestone for Biovest, as we are receiving the funding to begin the process of transforming our Minnesota cell-culture center into a best-in-class production site to manufacture our proprietary cancer vaccine, BiovaxID," Biovest President Samuel Duffey said. "When this initial expansion is complete, cancer cells collected from individual lymphoma patients will be transported to this facility, and vaccines will be produced on a patient-specific basis to empower their body's own immune system to potentially delay or prevent the recurrence of follicular lymphoma and likely other B-cell blood cancers. This is the first step in addressing our production-capacity needs as we execute our business plan, and I congratulate our employees in Coon Rapids for their outstanding performance."

The new BiovaxID production space is under construction, and Biovest said it expects to make a formal announcement when completed later this year.

"Biovest is a fine example of the type of accomplished bioscience company that has chosen to be based in Minnesota with a potential to emerge as a leader in the new field of cancer vaccines," said Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Mark Phillips. "Biovest has expressed a willingness to work with our universities and other Minnesota-based life-science companies to explore other areas of collaborative research that could result in spinoff technologies and foster industry growth in Minnesota."

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