Novartis’ AveXis to Invest $55 Million in New Gene Therapy Manufacturing Facility

May 25, 2018

The gene therapy company is expected to invest $55 million in a new manufacturing facility that will produce therapies for rare neurological genetic diseases.

On May 22, 2018, the North Carolina office of the Governor Roy Cooper announced that AveXis, a Novartis clinical-stage gene therapy company, will locate a new manufacturing center in Durham County, NC. The company is expected to invest $55 million in the facility, which will produce therapies to treat rare neurological genetic diseases and create 200 jobs, according to the governor’s office.

"We're proud to be the place where cutting edge work will happen on gene therapies to fight disease and improve people's health," Governor Cooper said in a press release issued by his office. “North Carolina has long been a leader in the life sciences, and AveXis’ decision further enhances the state’s expertise in this emerging field.”

AveXis, headquartered in Bannockburn, IL, was acquired by Novartis for $8.7 billion in May 2018. The company is currently developing a proprietary gene therapy candidate, AVXS-101, for treating spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Type 1, a genetic cause of infant mortality. The company will create a variety of positions in Durham County, including engineers, manufacturing and quality control personnel, and supply chain specialists. The total payroll impact is anticipated to be in excess of $20 million annually when all new positions are filled, the governor’s office reports.

“Our primary focus is to bring gene therapies to patients suffering from devastating rare neurological diseases-such as SMA, genetic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Rett syndrome-and continued investment in establishing our manufacturing infrastructure is a critical component to accomplishing this goal,” said Andrew Knudten, senior vice president of technical operations and chief technical officer at AveXis, in the press release. “As a long-established biotechnology hub that attracts the nation’s top talent, Research Triangle Park was an optimal location to expand our footprint and complement our existing state-of-the art manufacturing site in the Chicagoland area.”

“It’s notable that AveXis has chosen to expand its manufacturing operations in North Carolina,” said Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland in the press release. “Life science companies understand the many advantages our state offers manufacturers, particularly the investments North Carolina has made in education and workforce training for the biotechnology industry.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of NC (EDPNC) led the state’s support for the company’s expansion. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center also provided technical due diligence and funding support for this project through a jobs-based grant.

“AveXis is a valued employer in our region,” Representative MaryAnn Black said in the press release. “This new investment and expansion in the life science industry will create many good jobs for the people in our community and for North Carolinians.

“North Carolina’s ongoing commitment to the biotech and life science industry continues to pay dividends,” Senator Mike Woodard also said in the press release. “Companies like AveXis know they will find the support they need at the state, regional, and local level when they choose to do business in North Carolina.”

The North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Durham Technical Community College, Durham County, and the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce all partnered with NC Commerce and the EDPNC on this project.

Source: North Carolina Office of the Governor