Kite’s cell manufacturing facility in Frederick has recently launched what it calls its Veteran Pathways Program. The program is led by veteran hiring program strategist Bre Cameron. Cameron is a Navy veteran with more than a decade of experience in talent acquisition.
Markus Weiss, who in this role is responsible for supporting the North American Business Units and Divisions has 18 years of experience in operationalizing strategy, preserving and growing value, scaling culture as well as business transformations. He is experienced in divisional, regional and country level leadership roles in technology, life science, manufacturing, construction and financial services.
The BHCR cluster, in particular, includes a host of emerging and established cell and gene therapy companies, as well one of the deepest and most advanced biomanufacturing infrastructures in the U.S. While the cell and gene therapy industry still faces challenges like high manufacturing costs, high cost per dose to patients and complex supply chain issues, this sector remains very healthy and is continuing to grow rapidly in our region and globally.
The Horizon report is based on survey responses from more than 500 industry leaders who provide insight into all corners of the industry. The investigation of cell and gene therapies is proving to be a disruptive space that is reshaping biopharma business models. When cell therapies first went into human testing, Walters said the big question on the minds of the scientists was, “will it work?”
Gaithersburg’s Cartesian Therapeutics Inc. is expanding its local footprint and initiating an aggressive hiring spree as the company bolsters its leadership team — and looks to get a cell therapy candidate through the clinic.
The biopharma, which already occupies about 4,500 square feet at 704 Quince Orchard Road, is taking over another 3,500 square feet adjacent to its existing space in the building, Dr. Murat Kalayoglu, president and CEO of Cartesian, told the Washington Business Journal.
The company declined to disclose the projected cost of the expansion, citing confidentiality reasons per its contract with Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. (NYSE: ARE), which in partnership with South Duvall — an affiliate of Rockville’s Scheer Partners — paid $6.9 million for the 80,000-square-foot office building in 2018. The building in the Gaithersburg biotech corridor is also home to a flurry of local players, including Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX), miRecule Inc., VLP Therapeutics Inc. and others.
Cell therapies have grown to become a prevailing field dominating new medical breakthroughs with the promise of treatments and cures for multiple diseases. The biopharma hubs of Philadelphia and Maryland have emerged as important drivers of this new wave of medicine, build on the foundation of renowned research institutes, universities, and a number of successful cell therapy companies who have paved the way forward in this field.
Luke Thorstenson, director of business development at cell and gene therapy and production technology firm Orgenesis, also says digitized manufacturing is key to production scaleup.
“A significant challenge in the production of pharma and biotech products is the automation and integration of individual manufacturing operations,” he tells GEN. “Transitioning from the current ‘analog’ labor-intensive manufacturing process to machine automated processes like those in our Orgenesis Mobile Processing Units and Labs (OMPULs) requires digitization and will allow for the same activities currently done manually by an operator to efficiently scale. We believe these steps are necessary to make life saving treatments like CAR-T available, accessible and affordable.”
CaroElise Ataku: Driven by a Shared Purpose in Producing Personalized Cell Therapies to Fight Cancer
Kite specializes in personalized chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies for the treatment of certain blood cancers and CTSs play a critical role in the process that develops those therapies. Each day, a CTS receives batches of patient cells in their own hands, with each batch representing a new patient. Most of these patients have already exhausted other treatment options. The patient focus and the company’s mission to get these therapies to the people who need them most is the foundation of employees’ day-to-day work.
The BHCR has become a burgeoning center for cell therapy development and manufacturing. As a result, a host of cell therapy companies chose to locate themselves within the region to capitalize on its many advantages.
The next major wave of treatment options for multiple diseases is cell therapies, and Gaithersburg-based MaxCyte is one of the companies driving this revolution.