Novartis AG Opens New $600 Million Facility in Cambridge, Mass.

Novartis Opens New $600 Million Facility in Cambridge, Mass.
December 16, 2015
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Novartis is looking at a new $600 million facility in Cambridge to expand development of its treatments for malaria, autism, rheumatoid arthritis and bipolar disorder, reported this morning.

Last week Novartis held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the long-awaited 550,000 square-foot facility that will offer laboratory, office and retail space. The new facility places Novartis in the heart of Kendall Square, one of the densest developments for the biotech and pharmaceutical industries in the United States. Novartis’s site has been in development since 2013. The new site is expected to house about 1,000 people. Novartis currently employs about 2,000 people in the Cambridge area, Wickedlocal reported.

“The addition of two new buildings and renovation of an existing building will allow us to create an ideal work environment for communication, exchange of knowledge and interdisciplinary collaboration. This campus will be a life sciences gateway and will provide an important connection between Kendall and Central Squares. It will bring vibrancy to the area with ample green space, pedestrian connection and street level retail space,” Novartis said in a statement on its website. “Over the coming months, you will see about 1,000 associates move into these new labs and offices to work on discoveries in aging, neuroscience, ophthalmology and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.”

The new facility could become a major research base for Novartis’s investigational leukemia treatment CTL019, which wiped out the blood cancer in 93 percent of patients participating in a mid-stage trial, the company announced during a session of the American Society of Hematology in Florida earlier this month. Novartis is developing a chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CART) therapy for the treatment of children with relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia. During an ASH panel, Novartis announced that 55 of 59 patients, or 93 percent, experienced complete remissions with CTL019. The study did show that at the end of one year, 55 percent of patients had a remission-free survival rate and that 18 patients continued to show complete remission following one year.

The Kendall Square area of Cambridge is home to dozens of pharmaceutical and biotech companies. As the density of pharmaceutical work grew, so did interest from other companies looking to find a new home close to collaborative opportunities. One of the reasons for the greater Boston area becoming such a major hub in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries is the plethora of research universities in the area. Boston also has one of the highest educated workforces in the nation. Not only are smaller companies calling the Boston area home, but many larger and established pharmaceutical companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline , , Sanofi , and Biogen Idec have presences in the city. The close proximity of so many pharmaceutical and university laboratories provides researchers and scientists easy access to clinical studies and building partnerships between companies.

Cambridge’s Kendall Square area, which makes up approximately one square mile, is packed with biotech representatives. In May, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. announced it will build a new drug delivery and device innovation center, the Lilly Cambridge Innovation Center, in Kendall Square.

In April, Amgen , headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Calif., announced it was going to expand its presence in its Cambridge facilities, as well as in South San Francisco, part of a 100-person staff expansion. It indicated 75 new hires would be at its Kendall Square location.

BioMarin rebranded almost 350,000 square feet of former Vertex space over three buildings in Boston as the Sidney Research Campus. Vertex vacated the space in 2013 when it moved a few miles into Boston.

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