UK Based T Cell Therapy Company Selects Maryland for New US Commercial Manufacturing Facility
London based T cell therapy company, Autolus Therapeutics will build its US commercial manufacturing operation here in Maryland; regional biotech ‘talent’ identified as a deciding factor.
September 19, 2018
Autolus Therapeutics is a promising clinical-stage biotech that is a leader in T-cell programming and manufacturing technology. They have seen rapid growth since launching in 2014, and recently executed a successful US IPO in June that raised $160.4M at a $17 share price and landed them on the Nasdaq (AUTL).
The company’s aim is now on commercialization and they are building out the state of art operations needed to bring their therapies to the thousands of cancer patients that desperately need them. It’s now clear that Maryland will be home to their new US operation, and current discussions are focused on Montgomery County according to Matthias Alder, Senior Vice President, Chief Business Officer.
Autolus went through a rigorous site selection process, during which various east coast biotech markets were considered; including Atlanta, RTP, Maryland (BioHealth Capital Region), Philadelphia, Northern NJ and Boston.
“After analyzing the different markets, in the end, it came down to Maryland and one other market,” shared Alder. “Our analysis showed that this area is at par, or better, for many of the skill sets we’re looking for. Particularly for the biomanufacturing staff, and leadership talent, but also just the general biotech business skills that we will need for a biomanufacturing and commercial operation.”
Alder was clear that the primary deciding factor was based on the exceptional talent pool, but also noted that the State of Maryland helped by working with them on an attractive incentive package.
A burgeoning Gene and Cell Therapy Hub
Alder has been a Biohealth Capital Region resident for much of his career and has a unique perspective on its growth. “I’ve been here for 20 years, since back when Genelogic was the big player in the region, and we’ve come a long way since then. Something really dynamic is happening in the region,” Alder reflected.
Miltenyi Biotec, who acquired Lentigen in 2014 and has seen substantial growth around their lentiviral manufacturing capabilities for Cell and Gene Therapy. They are one of many new companies who have entered the region and are contributing to the notoriety of this as a hub.
Autolus and Mitenyi Biotec are actually strategic partners, and now neighbors. In April of 2018 they signed a strategic, long-term supply agreement on the supply and support of Miltenyi Biotec’s CliniMACS Prodigy® instruments, reagents and disposables for the manufacturing of Autolus’ programmed T cell therapies.
“You are starting to see a build-up of critical mass in cell and gene therapy in the Maryland biotech corridor,” shared Alder. “Miltenyi’s success here in Maryland was an indication that it was a good area to build a company like ours.”
Other notable new companies that are contributing to the magnetism of the region include GSK, who located their Global Vaccine HQ in Rockville, Kite, a Gilead company, who entered the region earlier this year following their successful NCI collaborations, and Janssen (a JNJ Compnay) who acquired BeniVir earlier this year for their oncolytic immunotherapy platform.
This the type of cluster-building is a positive indication that the mission to become a top 3 Biotech Cluster by 2023 is starting to build momentum. This was the mission adopted at the BioHealth Capital Region Forum, which has been hosted by MedImmune and BHI over the past four years to bring the region together and foster better collaboration.
Alder and his team already have strong relationships and collaborations in the region and are all well respected in the biotech community. In fact, they are already engaging in the community and meeting with other regional companies to open dialogues. In fact, this week Alder will also be presenting at the annual Maryland Tech Council’s Bio+Tech Conference on a Breakthrough Research in Oncology panel.
The Foundation for Growth
Matthias Alder joined Autolus as their Chief Business Officer and General Counsel in 2017. Prior to Autolus, Alder was EVP of Business Development and General Council for Rockville’s Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, which was later bought by Mallinckrodt for $1.2B. After helping to lead Sucampo through successful growth and two acquisitions, and a track record of numerous other success stories before that, Alder was a great acquisition to help start up the new US operation.
In the past year, Alder has brought on a “who’s who” of Sucampo alumni, in addition to numerous other industry leaders, to join the team and build the foundation for their growth. There is also still one vacancy posted on their website for a Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs US.
As of now, they plan to continue to manufacture in UK until they are ready for commercial production, or as their clinical needs deem it necessary. However, their plan is to continue to hire over the coming 24 months as clinicals progress so that they can bring the new facility online for commercial operations, which is expected to be around 2021-2022.
With a core team hired and a successful IPO behind them, Autolus seems poised to successfully build out their commercial facility and become a core tenant to Montgomery County’s growing cell and gene therapy cluster.
We will continue to follow this story and provide further updates on Autolus’ growth.