The UK-Government backed CGT Catapult began constructing a £55m ($69m) manufacturing centre in 2015 to provide production space for cell and gene therapy developers. Today the organisation announced that London-based biotech Autolus will be the first firm to reside there when it opens next year.
“Autolus is delighted to be the first partner in the CGT Catapult manufacturing centre,” spokeswoman Julia Wilson told Biopharma-Reporter. “The innovative operating model allows us to embed our own manufacturing expertise within the environs of a world-class commercially scaled manufacturing centre.”
The firm span-out from University College London (UCL) in September 2014, and is developing Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T Cell immunotherapies - immunotherapies which involve the reprogramming of a patient’s own T Cells to recognise and target cancer cells.
Earlier this year, head of manufacturing Jim Faulkner told delegates at a conference in Belgium Autolus was looking to “be more in control of the supply chain” after being “over-reliant on suppliers and on particular technologies that we are outsourcing,” which had left the firm vulnerable.
Wilson confirmed to us “it has always been a strategic aim for Autolus to gain control over its supply chain,” and added “this agreement with the CGTC manufacturing centre significantly enables that objective.”
Further information about the firm’s manufacturing strategy was not divulged due to the cell and gene therapy space being a “hugely competitive area.”
Autolus will occupy one of six manufacturing spaces at the centre – located in Stevenage, about 35km north of London - designed to be used for autologous, allogeneic or viral vector GMP processing.
Further details about Autolus’ manufacturing strategy were not divulged due to the “hugely competitive” nature of the cell and gene therapy space, Wilson said, so we asked the CGT Catapult directly how it intended to ensure segregation and IP protection at the shared site.
“The business model within the manufacturing centre is based on each organisation having their own production modules, which contain the manufacturing areas and associated changing rooms, offices, etc,” we were told.
“Each module is segregated from every other module - architectural, IT, air handling, etc - which means that every collaborator within the centre can operate independently of every other collaborator.”
The Catapult added there has been strong interest from domestic and international companies to fill the other five spaces, and the centre is currently in discussions with such firms.