Asklepios Looks for 6-Figure Incentive Package to Create 150 New Jobs

Published: Oct 09, 2017

Asklepios Looks for 6-Figure Incentive Package to Create 150 New Jobs October 9, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. – A hoped-for tax break could mean 150 new pharmaceutical jobs for an Orange County, N.C. town. If local government officials approve the proposal, Asklepios Biopharmaceuticals could build a new manufacturing facility in Hillsborough.

Privately-held Asklepios, a gene therapy company focused on targeting diseases in the heart, CNS, muscle, ocular and liver tissues, is banking on Hillsborough officials to support a $385,000 tax incentive deal, the Durham Herald-Sun reported. Shannon Campbell, the town’s economic development planner, told the Sun, that the $385,000 figure is still being negotiated and that nothing has been finalized with the pharmaceutical company.

Any tax incentive would come with strings and for this deal that would include Chapel Hill, N.C.-based Asklepios meeting its hiring goals. The Herald-Sun noted that the average salary for the potential Asklepios jobs would be about $85,000. That’s well above the average annual salary of $57,964 for the county as a whole.

For Asklepios, the company said if the economic incentive is awarded it could begin to operate the new facility by the end of the first quarter of 2018. Little information was provided as to what the company requires for the space or whether or not an existing building would need to be updated to fit the needs of the gene-editing company. The Herald-Sun noted that Asklepios has a site in mind, but that building is currently the home to another company, OE Enterprises, a non-profit agency serving mental health patients. OE Enterprises did confirm nor deny the possibility it could lose its building.

So far, Asklepios has remained mum on the proposal. The Herald-Sun was unable to talk with the company about the proposal. The information it cited about the tax incentive request was taken from a letter the gene-editing company sent the town of Hillsborough.

Founded in 2003, Asklepios has spun out two companies, NanoCor Therapeutics, a company with a gene therapy program for congestive heart failure, and Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc. In 2016, pharma giant Pfizer acquired Bamboo Therapeutics to acquire its ecombinant Adeno-Associated Virus (rAAV) vector design and production technology. At the time of the acquisition, Bamboo had been working on a pre-clinical program for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, as well as pre-clinical assets to treat Friedreich’s Ataxia and Canavan disease. The company had a Phase I program for Giant Axonal Neuropathy.

Pfizer and Asklepios have a history together. In 2010, Pfizer struck a deal with the North Carolina company for proprietary gene-delivery platform technologies or use in developing novel therapies for patients with Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

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