Public-Private Partnership Establishes New Biotech Research Center in Boston

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The Bay State is about to get another notch on its belt as one of the world’s leading hubs for the life sciences. A major collaboration from public and private entities aim to create a new center for advanced biological innovation and manufacturing.

The new facility, which could be open by the end of 2021, will be supported by Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, GE Healthcare Life Sciences, Alexandria Real Estate Equities and FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies. In addition to those companies and universities, some hospitals, including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital and others will support the development of the $50 million center. By pooling resources together, the consortium of stakeholders believes this will boost the chances of greater success in drug development.

The consortium’s goal will be to “explore and cultivate innovations in cell and gene therapy, advance biologic innovation and manufacturing, and accelerate developments in immunotherapy, cell therapies, gene editing, and other technologies.” The first-of-its-kind facility will foster collaboration and innovation. A statement from Dana-Farber noted that the center “holds the promise of speeding innovation and broadening the universe of patients that can be served by these emerging therapies.”

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The $50 million center will be an independent non-profit organization and is expected to remain so. The center has no name as of yet, but that will change in the coming months. The mission of the new research center will be to speed up the research in order to shorten the path toward clinical application.

“By housing institutions with strengths in each link in the ‘chain of innovation’ within one facility, the partners believe new innovations in both science and manufacturing will speed the introduction of new medicines to patients,” the group said in a statement.

One of the major obstacles to taking early-stage research into the clinic is a concern about production. In its announcement, the consortium said this facility will change that in Massachusetts. The site will provide some essential services, including preferred access to a new manufacturing facility at favorable pricing, reducing the wait and cost for researchers at universities, hospitals and start-ups. The site is also expected to provide good manufacturing practices manufacturing capacity in approximately eight cleanrooms for the production of cell and viral vector products and other related raw materials that may be used for Phase I and II clinical trials.

Udit Batra, CEO of MilliporeSigma, another member of the consortium, said there have been many significant breakthroughs in treating different diseases, including cancer. He pointed to the development of CAR-T treatments as a success story, but added that there can be delivery issues.

“Never before have we had so many breakthroughs available in the clinic. However, it can take up to 30 days, ‘needle to needle,’ to deliver a CAR-T therapy to a patient, and that does not take into account any of the bottlenecks in the supply chain that could occur along the way. It is our collective responsibility to eliminate any barriers to making these life-saving medicines accessible to patients everywhere,” Batra said in a statement.

“It’s an exciting time for the life sciences industry with cell and gene therapies in position to revolutionize the global healthcare system. While these therapies are promising, challenges in manufacturing, access and cost must be addressed so they can reach their full potential. Initiatives such as the center are important because they bring together key life sciences stakeholders together to share their capabilities, knowledge and expertise to collaborate and accelerate innovation,” Emmanuel Ligner, president and chief executive officer of GE Healthcare Life Sciences said in a statement.

FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies President and Chief Operating Officer Martin Meeson touted the benefits of the partnership. He said the consortium will meet the “core purpose” of delivering cutting edge medicines to patients who need it.

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