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Evonik to build $220 million U.S. production site for mRNA lipids

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FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Flags of the specialty chemical manufacturer Evonik Industries flutter in the wind at a factory in Darmstadt
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German chemicals group Evonik will build a U.S. production facility for lipids needed for mRNA therapies, winning considerable U.S. government backing for the $220 million investment.

Evonik is among the suppliers of lipids, produced in Germany, which are needed for packaging the messenger RNA molecules in Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine.

In the form of nanoparticles, the lipids protect the mRNA and help deliver them to the right body parts.

In a statement on Thursday, the German group said the investment in Lafayette, Indiana, will be funded by the U.S. government with up to $150 million through its Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

The project, with a planned production start in 2025, is part of a push to expand in pharmaceutical ingredients and would "position the group for future growth in novel mRNA-based therapies beyond COVID-19 vaccines".

The facility will be Evonik's first lipid production site in the United States, creating larger capacity than that of combined existing sites in the German cities of Hanau and Dossenheim. It also has lipid research and production in Canada, a spokesperson said.

Construction will begin in early 2023.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Madeline Chambers)

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