Pfizer commits $100M for a gene therapies plant in North Carolina

Print 10 August 2017
Eric Palmer / FiercePharma

Pfizer committed to building a $100 million gene therapies plant in North Carolina and in exchange, North Carolina committed to providing the drugmaker with a quarter-million dollars' worth of help.

Pfizer will expand an 11,000-square-foot plant in Sanford, North Carolina that it acquired last year when it bought gene therapies biotech Bamboo Therapeutics in a deal valued at up to $688 million. Bamboo bought the facility last year from the University of North Carolina about the time that Pfizer made is initial investment in the company.

The drugmaker considered building a facility in Massachusetts where it has other research and manufacturing operations but decided on North Carolina where it will receive a $250,000 performance grant from the state for the project and its 40 jobs.

“Pfizer is proud to further expand our presence in North Carolina, particularly as we build our leadership in gene therapy,” Lynn Bottone, site leader at Pfizer Sanford said in a statement. “We look forward to the next phase of this expansion as we build a clinical and commercial manufacturing facility.”

A Pfizer spokeswoman said in an email Tuesday that it was too early in the process to provide any details about the size of the expansion or when it might be producing materials.

Bamboo has already produced phase I and II materials in the facility using what Pfizer said was “superior suspension, cell-based production platform that increases scalability, efficiency and purity.”

Bamboo is working on gene therapies for certain rare diseases related to neuromuscular conditions and the central nervous system. With gene therapies, genetic material is introduced into a patient’s body to replace mutations that cause disease and the expectation is that treatments may cure the condition.

Pfizer is among a number of companies exploring the new area and added to its portfolio this spring when it struck a licensing deal with Richmond, California-based Sangamo Therapeutics, which is working on gene therapies for treating hemophilia A. Under the deal, Sangamo got $70 million upfront and could gain $475 million in biobucks and sales royalties on any medications from the collaboration that gain approval.

Others are building manufacturing facilities as well. California-based BioMarin, recently completed the renovation of a 25,000-square-foot building in Novato, Novato, California, for manufacturing the gene therapies for hemophilia A which its has in clinical trials, the Marin Independent Journal reported Monday.  

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