New CDMO plans $1.1bn cell and gene therapy plant

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Lolostock)
(Image: Getty/Lolostock)

Related tags The Center for Breakthrough Medicines The Discovery Labs Deerfield Management Company

A newly founded CDMO has outlined plans to invest $1.1bn to become the world’s biggest cell and gene therapy service provider.

The service provider, called the Center for Breakthrough Medicines, is new but the people behind it are well-established and have the resources to attempt the ambitious plan. Deerfield Management Company is creating the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) with MLP Ventures’ The Discovery Labs.

Deerfield is a healthcare investment firm that manages nearly $10bn (€9bn) in assets. The Discovery Labs is developing a former GlaxoSmithKline site into a $500m, 1.6m-square-foot life science campus in Pennsylvania, US.

The Center for Breakthrough Medicines will occupy more than 40% of the campus being created by The Discovery Labs. In that space, the CDMO will install 10 plasmid suites, 20 viral vector suites, 36 universal cell processing suites and 20 current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) testing, process development and cell banking suites.

Those figures reflect the CDMO’s ambition. Despite being a new entrant into a field fought over by big, established CDMOs such as Catalent and Thermo Fisher Scientific, The Center for Breakthrough Medicines calls itself, “The world's largest and most advanced single solution cell and gene therapy contract development and manufacturing organization. Period​.”

While the CDMO is yet to establish the infrastructure needed to back up that claim, it has sketched out a near-term strategy for doing so. Over the next 30 months, the CDMO plans to hire 2,000 staff to work at its $1.1bn facility.

The Center for Breakthrough Medicines is already accepting reservations for capacity that is due to come online around the end of the year. Given the current shortage of manufacturing capacity, notably for gene therapies, the availability of untapped space could attract the attention of drug developers.

Deerfield and The Discovery Labs are betting a significant sum of money on that being the case, but they are far from the only companies to do so. Catalent, for example, paid $1.2bn​ to acquire gene therapy CDMO Paragon Bioservices and then set about adding to its capacity​.

The investments all reflect the fact that the pipeline of cell and gene therapies​ expanded far faster than the supporting infrastructure, leaving academic labs and biotechs developing the treatments unable to access production capacity to support their R&D programs.

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