Orchard Expects to Hire 100, Expands Gene Therapy Manufacturing in Bay Area

San Francisco aerial view of downtown

Orchard Therapeutics is expanding its physical footprint in California. The U.K.-based company signed a long-term lease to build out a gene therapy manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif. The 150,000-square-foot facility will add to the company’s presence in the Bay Area.

In its announcement this morning, Orchard said it plans to begin construction on the new site in 2019. Over the next few years, the company will hire more than 100 full-time employees to support in-house manufacturing efforts at the facility. The new site will complement existing facilities in Foster City and Menlo Park, which oversee the ongoing development and validation of the manufacture of Orchard’s ex vivo gene therapy product candidates.

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The new 150,000 square-foot facility will provide Orchard with significant additional CGMP manufacturing capacity for both lentiviral vector and cryopreserved cell therapy products. The company said the space will enhance its ability to manufacture and deliver gene-corrected hematopoietic stem cells for a wide range of diseases. While Orchard is expanding its own in-house manufacturing, the company said it plans to maintain “its close collaborations” with existing contract manufacturing partners.

Stewart Craig, Orchard’s chief manufacturing officer, said the expansion of its manufacturing operations in California is part of the company’s plan to advance its capabilities to support the company’s ex vivo gene therapy programs.

“We believe that this new facility, as an early investment in our own manufacturing, will not only drive efficiencies and scalability in terms of lentiviral vector and drug product development, it will also complement the capabilities of our existing vector and drug product manufacturing partners to support the potential launch of our gene therapy clinical product candidates,” Craig said in a statement.

Orchard Chief Executive Officer Mark Rothera said the new California facility will provide “enhanced capacity and long-term supply” that supports the company’s pipeline. Rothera said the company is pleased to continue to grow its presence in the Bay Area and looks forward to “welcoming additional technical and management talent” to the company.

The expansion of the company’s Bay Area presence comes on the heels of its acquiring a significant amount of operating funds through a financing round as well as an initial public offering. In August, Orchard Therapeutics secured $150 million in an oversubscribed Series C financing round. The funds in that round were expected to be used to support the development of its three lead gene therapy assets for the treatment of Wiskott–Aldrich syndrome (WAS), adenosine deaminase severe combined immunodeficiency (ADA-SCID) and metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD). Then in November, the company closed a $225 million initial public offering.

Earlier this month, Rothera told BioSpace that he believes Orchard’s therapies have the ability to be transformative treatments in the lives of patients diagnosed with rare diseases. Rothera pointed to the dramatic difference the gene therapies developed by Orchard have made for some patients.

“I had always hoped and dreamed that one day I could lead a company that could make a difference in rare disease. What drew me was that I had never seen this kind of data before,” Rothera told BioSpace during that interview.

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