The Discovery Labs, Deerfield Management Create New CDMO and Invest $1.1 Billion in New Cell and Gene Therapy Facility

January 29, 2020

The new facility, to be operated under the newly formed CDMO, The Center for Breakthrough Medicines, will be located in King of Prussia, PA, and will increase manufacturing capacity for cell and gene therapies.

On Jan. 22, 2020, The Discovery Labs, an MLP Venture company and provider of cGMP manufacturing, turnkey laboratory solutions, critical materials, and office space, and Deerfield Management, a healthcare investment management firm, announced that they have formed The Center for Breakthrough Medicines, a new contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) and specialty investment company. Under the new CDMO, the companies will invest $1.1 billion to build a manufacturing facility for cell and gene therapies.

The facility will be built on The Discovery Labs' 1.6-million-ft2 biotech, healthcare, and life sciences campus in King of Prussia, PA, where the CDMO occupies more than 40% of space.

The Center for Breakthrough Medicines will provide preclinical through commercial manufacturing of cell and gene therapies and component raw materials. It also offers process development, plasmid DNA, viral vectors, cell banking, cell processing, and support testing capabilities, all of which will be housed under one roof. The new facility is expected to provide instant capacity, according to The Discovery Labs and Deerfield.

This new manufacturing capability adds to The Discovery Labs market offering and complements the company’s biotech incubator, Unite IQ. The incubator offers immediate space to emerging life sciences companies and scientists, giving them the ability to grow from a startup to an enterprise company on one campus. The incubator and accelerator space at Unite IQ provides a comprehensive home for startups and provides resources needed to initiate business operations. Tenants are expected to utilize the discovery, development, testing, and manufacturing capabilities of the new Center for Breakthrough Medicines and will be provided the ability to forward integrate processes and analytics as well as seamless tech transfer from research lab to large-scale production.

Renovations are also underway to construct a total of 86 plasmid, viral-vector production, universal cell processing, cGMP testing, process development, and cell banking suites. The viral vector and cell processing suites will be fully compliant with both FDA and European Medicines Agency standards. All suites will offer the flexibility to meet client-specific workflows and will be able to adapt quickly to meet demand, according to The Discovery Labs. The CDMO is in the process of reserving capacity now for late 2020.

Personnel recruitment

The Discovery Labs is also establishing The Colony, a unit that will provide custom-built discovery labs, breakthrough funding, sponsored research agreements, housing, and relocation for leading experts in cell and gene therapy. The unit will seek to work hand in hand with scientists from both academic and pharmaceutical institutions to unlock and expedite groundbreaking therapies. It will also seek to unlock institutional barriers that prohibit scientists from moving at a pace necessary in today's ever-changing therapeutic environment. The Colony will partner with institutions where these scientists currently work and will provide equity, license fees, and revenue sharing.

The Discovery Labs has also initiated a substantial hiring effort targeting highly skilled experts in the life sciences community, including experts in cGMP manufacturing. The company expects to hire more than 2000 team members within the next 30 months.

"The Center for Breakthrough Medicines will be serving companies from the earliest stages through commercialization. Its exceptional scale and offering will quickly relieve the production bottleneck for advanced therapies by reducing the time, complexity, and cost of commercializing vitally needed gene and cell therapies," noted Audrey Greenberg, board member and executive managing director for The Discovery Labs, in a company press release.

"Today brilliant scientists are advancing an unprecedented number of gene and cell therapy drug candidates. The real tragedy, however, is a scarcity of manufacturing know-how, which is complex and expensive," added Alex Karnal, partner and managing director of Deerfield Management and a board Member of The Discovery Labs, in the press release. "With its visionary business model, it is hoped that The Center for Breakthrough Medicines will help realize the promise of cell and gene therapies in time to treat the many patients who need them."

Source: The Discovery Labs