Krystal, Foghorn Undertake Expansions that Will Lead to New Hires


Krystal Biotech and Foghorn Therapeutics are beginning 2020 with significant expansion projects.

Pittsburgh-based Krystal, a gene therapy company developing medicines to treat rare diseases, broke ground this week on its second commercial gene therapy facility in Findlay Township, Penn. The new 100,000 square-foot facility, called ASTRA, will have the capacity to produce commercial gene therapy medicines to treat patients suffering from debilitating rare diseases. The facility is being designed as a state-of-the-art cGMP manufacturing facility that will allow the “in-house incorporation of raw material preparation, excipient manufacturing, testing, packaging, labeling and distribution, fully-integrating all components of the supply chain from starting materials to patient experience,” the company said in an announcement.

Krystal said the ASTRA facility will initially be used as a commercial back up facility for B-VEC, previously known as KB103, which is being developed for the treatment of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a rare and devastating skin disorder, and expand to produce investigational and commercial material for our pipeline products. When the site is fully operational, it will have the potential to create around 200 new jobs when at full capacity.

Krish S. Krishnan, chairman and chief executive officer at Krystal, said biologics manufacturing is a complex science and is a competitive advantage for Krystal Biotech.

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“We are very excited to announce the creation of ASTRA which will be a global resource for production of gene therapies with the potential to bring new treatments to rare disease patients around the world. The success with our first GMP facility, Ancoris, gives us the experience and confidence to have ASTRA be functionally ready in time for the anticipated launch of our lead therapeutic, B-VEC,” Krishnan said in a statement.

In Massachusetts, Foghorn Therapeutics, launched by Flagship Pioneering in 2018, is undertaking an expansion of its headquarters, nearly tripling the space. In a brief report, the Boston Business Journal said the Foghorn headquarters will include biology labs, chemistry labs, open-space offices, huddle rooms, conference rooms and an employee cafe. The additional space provides the company with significant room for growth, but Foghorn has no specific timeline for that growth, a company spokesperson told the Journal.

"There is no specific timeframe for filling the new office to capacity but Foghorn has grown rapidly since its inception and we are regularly adding talented individuals to help us achieve our mission,” the spokesperson said, according to the Journal.

Foghorn’s goal is to develop drugs that work in the chromatin regulatory system, which orchestrates the movement of molecules that turn genes on and off, the company said. Using its Gene Traffic Control platform, Foghorn is focusing on sarcoma, as well as prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. The chromatin process has possible applications in autism, schizophrenia and some rare neurological diseases. The company is currently pre-clinical but said it is rapidly advancing more than 10 programs.

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