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ID 15503

Tour of Genentech, David Ebersman

In 1976, Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson started the first biotechnology company – Genentech. The company used recombinant DNA technology to synthesize human insulin. Today, Genentech makes and holds the patents for a number of products used in the treatment of medical conditions. (DNAi Location: Manipulation > Production > Putting it together > The Genentech tour)
Welcome to Genentech. This is our manufacturing site in Vacaville, California. It is the largest manufacturing site in the world for making protein pharmaceutical products. Herb Boyer and Bob Swanson really were visionaries in terms of what they saw they could accomplish, the risks they were willing to take to try and found a company and, and what became an industry. The site took us about five and a half years to construct, it cost us about a quarter of a billion dollars. This is a three-storey facility and the process flows in a, in a very elegant fashion downward from the top floor where we get started, where we first take the master cell bank that has our starting point. To make a biological product we are using actual living cells as the factories and what I have here is one vial of Herceptin, that is a treatment that prolongs the lives of women with metastatic breast cancer. So what we're going to show you in this facility is how we've succeeded in scaling up this to something that's capable of producing not one dose, but hundreds of thousands of doses. To give you an example of the engineering challenges, I think we have twenty-seven miles of piping connecting the various fermenters and the various equipment to each other. Eighty liter fermentation tanks, four hundred liter tanks, two thousand liter tanks, that's the train of process that we use to get from really small scale to very large scale. The largest scale that we used here is a twelve thousand liter fermentation tank. That tank takes up two storeys, it's got about the volume of a gasoline truck. This facility has twelve fermenters in it and inside each one of those fermenters is the hundreds of billions of cells. This is the bottom of the twelve thousand liter fermentation tanks. Here are some of the key purification steps whereby we purify out the protein that we want and get rid of all the things that we're not interested in for commercialization and what we wind up with at the end is a good quality protein that we can supply to our patients. And that was Genentech, and thank you so much for visiting with us.
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