Kite Builds Maryland CAR-T Manufacturing Site That Could Employ up to 900
Kite Pharma, a subsidiary of Gilead Sciences, broke ground on a Maryland facility that will significantly expand the company’s ability to manufacture a variety of CAR-T therapies, including its previously approved Yescarta.
On Wednesday, Kite and Gilead announced the 20-acre facility in Fredericksburg that is expected to employ more than 400 people when it becomes operational. The facility could employ nearly 900 people in the future. The Maryland facility will support manufacturing efforts at other Kite sites in California and the Netherlands. In its announcement, Kite did not provide an outlook for when the site is expected to come online to support the company’s manufacturing needs. The Frederick News-Post projected the facility will be operational by 2021.
Tim Moore, head of technical operations at Kite, said the facility in Frederick County, Maryland will build on the company’s “substantial technical capabilities and rapid progress in making personalized CAR-T and TCR cell therapies” for cancer patients across the globe. In order to do that, Moore said the company has to continue to expand and invest in its manufacturing capabilities.
“With the Frederick County site, we will have the opportunity to build and design the facility tailored to our own innovative processes and with state-of-the-art features that will enable us to meet the future needs for cell therapies,” Moore said in a statement.
In addition to the manufacture of Yescarta, which was approved in 2017 two months after Kite was acquired by Gilead for $12 billion, the Maryland facility will also develop investigational T cell receptor (TCR) cell therapies being evaluated in solid tumors. The manufacture of CAR T therapies require many complex and carefully controlled, multi-step processes, Kite said.
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner called the manufacturing news announcement “wonderful news for the county.” The Kite facility will support a number of other life science companies already in the county. Frederick County now has the second largest cluster of bioscience companies in Maryland. The county is home to Fort Detrick, the leading medical research laboratory for the U.S. Biological Defense Research Program, the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. The county is also home to manufacturing facilities for pharma giant AstraZeneca’s biologics manufacturing facility.
“Our businesses are on the leading edge of finding the cure for cancer,” she said in a statement. “We’re excited to welcome Kite to our life science and biopharma family. We were pleased to fast-track their project and want them to know our support will continue into the future. Frederick County is a great place to do business.”