FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Fargo biotechnology company Aldevron has been chosen to produce cancer vaccines being developed by a Boston-area research company that plans to move most of its operations to North Dakota.
The DNA-based vaccines have shown promise in animal studies in suppressing lung and breast cancers, The Forum newspaper reported.
CureLab Oncology will keep a lab and office in Canton, Mass., but plans to move most of its operations sometime next year to North Dakota, possibly to Fargo or Grand Forks, where it also is collaborating with Avianax, a biotech company at the University of North Dakota. The company will bring a few people to North Dakota but plans to hire local college and university graduates, CEO Alex Schneider said.
"We already have put our foot on the soil," Schneider said of the production partnership with Aldevron, which does custom DNA work for research labs around the world.
The addition of CureLab to the area will help Fargo-Moorhead in its efforts to establish the area as a hub for the growing vaccine and biotech industries, said Michael Chambers, Aldevron's chief executive.
"CureLab Oncology's presence in North Dakota would add a significant amount of expertise to the growing regional vaccine sector," Chambers said. "Also, CureLab Oncology will help us attract even more talented scientists to the area."
Aldevron plans to spend about $5 million to renovate a former school for its headquarters. Once complete, the building would allow Aldevron, which has a staff of about 50 in Fargo, to accommodate up to 200 employees, Chambers said.
"I fully expect to reach and exceed this number," he said. "Many of these positions will likely be responsible for the production of cancer vaccines."
Separately, Altravax, a biotech firm with offices in Fargo and Sunnyvale, Calif., announced that it has been awarded two research grants worth a combined $3.45 million. The grants are from the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for research on vaccines for the AIDS virus
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