AstraZeneca has unveiled its plans to construct a $1.5bn manufacturing facility in Singapore to produce antibody drug conjugates (ADCs).

ADCs represent a class of therapies aimed at delivering potent anti-cancer agents directly to cancer cells using targeted antibodies.

The facility is expected to bolster the global availability of its ADC portfolio, said AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca plans to start the design and construction of the manufacturing site by the end of this year with an aim to achieve operational readiness from 2029.

Backed by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), the planned greenfield facility includes all phases of manufacturing on a commercial scale.

It also represents AstraZeneca’s first end-to-end ADC production site.

The pharma major said that the production process for ADCs involves several steps, including antibody synthesis, chemotherapy drug and linker production, drug-linker conjugation to the antibody, and filling of the final ADC product.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said: “AstraZeneca has built an industry-leading portfolio of cancer medicines including antibody drug conjugates which have shown enormous potential to replace traditional chemotherapy for patients across many settings.

“Singapore is one of the world’s most attractive countries for investment given its reputation for excellence in complex manufacturing, and I am excited for AstraZeneca to locate our $1.5bn ADC manufacturing facility in the country.”

AstraZeneca said that it has a diverse array of proprietary ADCs, featuring six fully owned ADCs undergoing clinical trials and various others in the preclinical phase.

The drug maker plans to collaborate with the Singaporean government and other stakeholders to employ eco-friendly solutions at the ADC facility.

The initiative will ensure that the facility operates with zero carbon emissions right from its inception, aligning with AstraZeneca’s dedication to fostering sustainability within the healthcare sector.

EDB chairman Png Cheong Boon said: “We welcome AstraZeneca’s decision to establish a manufacturing presence in Singapore for the first time. It will also be a first for AstraZeneca – an end-to-end manufacturing facility for novel antibody drug conjugates that enables precision therapy for cancer.”