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7 November, 2006 - 07:53 By Staff Reporter

Millions poured into CAT’s Cambridge expansion

AstraZeneca is to invest tens of millions of pounds into Cambridge Antibody Technology over the next few years as it takes on a major new facility at Granta Park and increases its Cambridge workforce by around 250 in an effort to increase the flow of its product pipeline.

CAT will occupy the old Millennium Pharmaceuticals building – Unit GP15 – on Granta Park on a 15-year lease early in 2008, by which time it will have been fully refurbished and renamed.

The new facility on Granta Park, a research hub on Cambridge’s south-east border, will be CAT’s third at the site, giving it an additional 92,000 sq ft of state-of-the-art laboratory and associated open-plan office space.

CAT will carry out significant alterations to the internal layout of the building before it moves in, some time in the next 12 to 15 months.

AstraZeneca’s investment backs up its commitment to grow CAT to a world force from a Cambridge base.

Just weeks after winning Business Weekly’s 2005 East of England Business of the Year Award for producing UK biotech’s first blockbuster drug – Humira – CAT was acquired by AstraZeneca in a £702 million deal.

Recent press reports have suggested there exists some unease amongst AstraZeneca shareholders with regards to its product portfolio and it seems the CAT acquisition will go some way to addressing this issue.

CAT chief executive officer, Hamish Cameron, said: “CAT has shown itself to be very successful at creating new medicines for serious diseases from antibodies. Our ambition is to grow a portfolio of new medicines from the same system.

“There are always questions about longer term portfolios and AstraZeneca has had some issues, but CAT is about building long-term and stronger portfolios.

“This investment in CAT’s future is essential for us to achieve our planned expansion as part of the AstraZeneca group of companies. CAT is on a journey to create an outstanding biopharmaceutical company and is central to AstraZeneca’s plans to establish a major international presence in the research and development of biological therapeutics.

“Starting next year, CAT will be recruiting a significant number of new staff, across all functions and at all levels, to join our team and this additional space is being prepared to accommodate this growth. Unit GP15 is ideal for us, and when fully occupied will house between 250-300 people.

“It is a high quality building and, being so close to our existing facilities on Granta Park, it will allow many of our staff to continue to work easily and closely together, an important feature of CAT’s working culture, and one which we will strive to maintain as we grow.”

CAT currently employs around 300 people in the UK and in Palo Alto, California and concentrates on the discovery and development of new and innovative antibody medicines in selected therapeutic areas.

Last year it became the first UK company to develop a blockbuster drug – one with sales of more than $1 billion – with HUMIRA, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

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