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Rewriting Life

Biotech Drug Factory

A photo essay: Inside Genetech’s South San Francisco manufacturing plant

Last year, Genentech, a global leader in the manufacture of genetically engineered drugs, had sales of about $5.5 billion. A “biotech drug” is one that uses a protein to treat a particular disorder: to make its protein-based drugs, which include cancer treatments and a human growth hormone, Genentech must grow vast quantities of therapeutic proteins in host cells and then harvest them.

The company can ferment approximately 280,000 liters of cell culture at any one time at its various manufacturing plants.

This photo essay illustrates the production process at Genentech’s South San Francisco plant, from the testing and fine-tuning of manufacturing techniques, to the fermentation of cells, to the purification of drugs that will be shipped around the world.

This story is part of our March/April 2006 Issue
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