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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.
American Gene Technologies’ goal to develop a cure for HIV moved one step closer to reality. After infusing the first patient with its cell therapy candidate AGT103-T, the company announced the Data and Safety Monitoring Board unanimously supported the continuation of the clinical study without modification.
American Gene Technologies (AGT) announced today that the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) voted unanimously to continue AGT’s HIV cure program without modification, after safety analysis of the participant’s data revealed no adverse effects from the treatment. AGT’s Phase 1 trial of AGT103-T, a new cell and gene therapy for HIV disease, is designed to induce durable viral suppression by delivering therapeutic genes to the recipient’s immune cells. The cells are collected by leukapheresis, modified outside the body, then re-infused. Once infused, the cells are expected to durably suppress the virus at undetectable levels without the need for antiretroviral treatment.
The BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR) has been witnessing a strong upward growth trajectory in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the need for increased research, diagnostic and domestic manufacturing needs in the region. But while workforce needs are in demand, the right skills are in short supply.