KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., Jan. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Discovery Labs and Deerfield Management Company have formed The Center for Breakthrough Medicines, a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) and specialty investment company, to alleviate the critical lack of capacity that is preventing patients from accessing critically needed cell and gene therapies. The CDMO is occupying over 40 percent of The Discovery Labs' 1.6 million square foot biotech, healthcare and life sciences campus in King of Prussia, PA.
The CDMO provides preclinical through commercial manufacturing of cell and gene therapies and component raw materials. It offers process development, plasmid DNA, viral vectors, cell banking, cell processing, and support testing capabilities all under one roof. The immense $1.1 billion facility will provide instant capacity as the largest known single source for accelerating the delivery and affordability of lifesaving and life-changing therapies from the bench to the patient's bedside.
The Company has initiated a substantial hiring effort targeting the best and brightest of the life sciences community including, experts in CGMP manufacturing. The Company expects to hire over 2,000 team members within the next 30 months.
The CDMO has retained Nucleus Careers, a cloud-based specialty life sciences human capital recruiting and retention management expert, to buildout the entire team. Nucleus has proprietary recruiting and retention software designed for large scale human capital buildouts of high growth companies.
In addition to developing the world's largest single-point cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility, The Discovery Labs is establishing THE COLONY which will provide custom built discovery labs, breakthrough funding, sponsored research agreements, housing and relocation for the world's leading iconic experts in cell and gene therapy.
THE COLONY will seek to work hand in hand with scientists from both academic and pharmaceutical institutions to unlock and expedite groundbreaking therapies.
Marco A. Chacón, Ph.D., Founder of Paragon Bioservices and Chairman of The Discovery Labs states, "musicians, artists, members of religious communities and great thinkers throughout time have formed colonies where freedom of thought and expression combined with unlimited dreams and potential have resulted in the world's greatest accomplishments. The United States of America is a perfect example." Dr. Chacón went on to say, "the goal of THE COLONY is to unshackle the potential of the world's greatest scientific minds."
The ability for the industry's greatest scientists to cohabitate, collaborate, cooperate, and communicate via technology and in person will create an exponential therapeutic "X FACTOR." THE COLONY seeks to unlock institutional barriers prohibiting the world's greatest scientists from moving at a pace necessary in today's ever-changing therapeutic revolution. THE COLONY will partner with the institutions where the scientists currently work by providing equity, license fees, and revenue sharing.
"The Center for Breakthrough Medicines will be serving companies from the earliest stages through commercialization. Its exceptional scale and offering will quickly relieve the production bottleneck for advanced therapies by reducing the time, complexity, and cost of commercializing vitally needed gene and cell therapies," noted Audrey Greenberg, Board Member and Executive Managing Director for The Discovery Labs.
The addition of this end-to-end manufacturing capability is expected to significantly enhance the offerings of The Discovery Labs in an area that has become one of the largest life sciences hubs in the world. Renovations are underway to construct a total of 86 plasmid, viral vector production, universal cell processing, CGMP testing, process development and cell banking suites. The viral vector and cell processing suites will be fully compliant with both U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency standards. All suites will offer the flexibility to meet client-specific workflows and will be able to adapt quickly to meet demand. The Company is in the process of reserving capacity now for late 2020.
"Today brilliant scientists are advancing an unprecedented number of gene and cell therapy drug candidates. The real tragedy, however, is a scarcity of manufacturing know-how, which is complex and expensive," said Alex Karnal, Partner and Managing Director of Deerfield Management and a Board Member of the Discovery Labs. "With its visionary business model, it is hoped that The Center for Breakthrough Medicines will help realize the promise of cell and gene therapies in time to treat the many patients who need them."
The Discovery Labs provides a central campus where the world's greatest scientists can collaborate on new therapeutic discoveries to eradicate diseases affecting small and large segments of the global population. The Center for Breakthrough Medicines will work with these leaders, life sciences companies, large pharmaceutical companies, and academic and government institutions.
This new manufacturing capability is a transformational addition to The Discovery Labs market offering and dovetails with The Discovery Labs biotech incubator, Unite IQ. Unite IQ offers immediate space to emerging life sciences companies and scientists giving them the ability to grow from startup to enterprise company on one campus. The incubator and accelerator space at Unite IQ provides a comprehensive home for startups with every resource needed to initiate business operations. Unite IQ tenants are expected to utilize the discovery, development, testing, and manufacturing capabilities of the Center for Breakthrough Medicines with seamless forward integration of processes and analytics, and seamless tech transfer from research lab to large scale production
The Emerging Field of Cell and Gene Therapy in Pennsylvania
The demand for clinical and commercial manufacturing capacity is acute and expected to remain that way. The current shortfall in manufacturing for cell and gene therapies is severely underserved with few approved products. There are currently approximately 1,100 advanced therapies in the pipeline pending FDA approval. This will greatly increase highly skilled manufacturing demand. Dr. Peter Marks, Director of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, states, "what keeps me up at night is will we be able to manufacture these on a scale that will allow us to bring the benefit of these therapies to patients?" He further added that "if we can help see cost of goods and ability to manufacture reproducibly improve, I think that'll be a big thing." All of this adds up to a supply constrained market that The Center for Breakthrough Medicines aims to help address.
With the potential to treat and even cure disabling, and deadly diseases, gene and cell therapies are ushering in a new era of medicine. These therapies may eventually be able to cure genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, hemophilia A, and a range of cancers. The Philadelphia area has become the epicenter for the flourishing field of gene and cell therapy. Research from CBRE currently ranks the market among the top biotech clusters for medical research and health services. The cluster has become known worldwide as "Cellicon Valley" for its leadership in research and development of this rapidly evolving field. The Discovery Lab's suburban Philadelphia location offers a talent rich environment due to the area's preponderance of large pharmaceutical companies and the Philadelphia region's position boasting the top 10 universities and primary school systems in nation.
Over the past three years, multiple Philadelphia companies have received approvals for major breakthroughs in cell and gene therapy. In 2017, the U.S. FDA approved the first-ever CAR-T cell therapy, Novartis's Kymriah, which originated at the University of Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, the FDA gave landmark approval for the first-ever gene therapy to treat a genetic blindness condition to Spark Therapeutics, a start-up founded by researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. These discoveries and others in the pipeline are attracting billions of dollars of venture capital. The Greater Philadelphia Region set a recent record in venture capital financing.
The Discovery Labs Center for Breakthrough Medicines joins more than 25 healthcare, life sciences and tech-enabled companies that already call The Discovery Labs King of Prussia home.
Contact Audrey Greenberg at [email protected] for more information about development services, manufacturing capacity, incubator space or leasing information at the property.
About The Discovery Labs
Part of MLP Ventures, The Discovery Labs is a global provider of world-class cGMP manufacturing, turnkey laboratory solutions, critical materials and office space that support therapeutic products and services to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry so that groundbreaking medicines get to the patients that need them. The location in eastern King of Prussia is a prototype for a global rollout of The Discovery Labs, providing Big Pharma, emerging life sciences, consumer and technology companies flexible, end-to-end technical real estate and business infrastructure for the customer's entire lifecycle from discovery to delivery, including manufacturing capacity. It is the first fully integrated environment that merges technology and life sciences under one roof to drive innovation.
Deerfield is a healthcare investment management firm committed to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy.
Tony DeFazio, DeFazio Communications
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SOURCE The Discovery Labs