The company will build more than 150,000 square feet of facilities for manufacturing Dermagraft, its living skin treatment for diabetic foot ulcers, and for other uses, said Kathy McGee, senior vice president of operations. The site could eventually hold an additional 800,000 total square feet of capacity.
McGee said the expansion will give the company needed capacity to make more Dermagraft, as well as new regenerative medicine products it is considering.
Advanced BioHealing now employs about 350 people in San Diego, with an additional 150 to 180 “field-based” employees, McGee said.
“There will be a range of high-quality jobs that require high-level talent,” including factory technicians, quality assurance and supply-chain professionals, she said.
The new buildings will be constructed on about 28 acres in Sorrento Valley. The property has been leased from BioMed Realty Trust, a Rancho Bernardo-based company that specializes in life science real estate. BioMed said Monday that it had bought the property for $47 million.
Dermagraft is a living skin replacement to promote healing of diabetic foot ulcers. Dermagraft consists of skin cells called fibroblasts grown from newborn foreskin, embedded in an absorbable matrix. It’s delivered frozen in sterile pouches, and thawed when needed.
Advanced Biohealing is a unit of Shire plc, a global biopharmaceutical company that bought Advanced BioHealing last year for $750 million in cash to get into the regenerative medicine field. Based in Dublin, Ireland, Shire is traded on the London Stock Exchange.
Regenerative medicine has become a growing focus of San Diego County’s large life science industry in recent years, along with the entire state through the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. While the term is often associated with stem cells, it generally refers to any product made of living tissue used to treat diseases or injuries.
McGee said the company doesn’t plan to expand into stem cell products, but does intend to increase its regenerative medicine product line.
Advanced BioHealing is headquartered in Westport, Conn., where the company maintains “a small corporate office,” McGee said. All Dermagraft manufacturing is done in San Diego.
Dermagraft recalls a bittersweet saga in San Diego biotech. It was developed by Advanced Tissue Sciences Inc, a now-defunct company in San Diego. Dermagraft received FDA approval in 2001 to treat diabetic foot ulcers. However, Advanced Tissue entered Chapter 11 reorganization in 2002, a liquidation process completed in 2009.
Dermagraft was acquired from Advanced Tissue Sciences by its partner, the global health products company Smith Nephew.
In 2006, Smith Nephew sold Dermagraft to Advanced BioHealing, then an independent company. And in 2011, Shire purchased Advanced BioHealing.