New Manufacturing Facility of Umoja Biopharma Highlights Colorado's Biopharma Potential

CEO Dr Andy Scharenberg of Umoja Biopharma

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andy Scharenberg of Umoja Biopharma/Courtesy Umoja Biopharma 

Umoja Biopharma, an oncology company focused on using a patient’s own immune cells to kill cancerous cells, has broken ground on its new manufacturing facility in Louisville, Colorado.

An important step toward delivering effective, accessible treatments to cancer patients, the state-of-the-art 146,000 square foot facility will make it easier for Umoja to eliminate crucial CAR-T production barriers.

Besides providing space for labs, offices, and lentiviral vector manufacturing, the new facility will provide a multitude of manufacturing jobs and help researchers commercialize their research. The first manufacturing run of clinical material is anticipated in the first quarter of 2023.

What is Umoja Biopharma Working On?

The Seattle-based Umoja Biopharma is leveraging its proprietary integrated technologies to reprogram immune cells in vivo to create next-generation immunotherapies for the treatment of solid tumors and hematologic malignancies.

The fast-moving Umoja announced last year that it had completed its $53 million Series A financing round, which was one of the largest rounds of funding for a Purdue University-affiliated company. The Purdue Startup Fund participated in the financing. Just seven months later in June, Umoja closed an oversubscribed $210 million Series B financing round.

In evaluating business locations, the company is extremely selective and chooses only locations that provide the best support for its operations.

"Manufacturing is a critical strategic component of Umoja’s approach to delivering the future of cancer immunotherapies, ensuring our treatments are widely accessible in a timely way and at a reasonable cost – all barriers that have long held the landscape of CAR T treatments back," said Umoja Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andy Scharenberg, Umoja Biopharma.

“Our facility in Colorado represents a significant investment into our commitment to bring novel therapies to cancer patients, as well as in how those therapies are produced, stored, and distributed," he added.

Keen to nurture talent and research in the region, the facility is expected to substantially enhance the company’s vector manufacturing, process development, and formulation capabilities. The groundbreaking is the first step in bringing these capabilities online, added Scharenberg.

Founded on research done at Purdue University and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Umoja’s platforms create and harness a powerful immune response in the body to directly, safely, and controllably attack cancer.

Umoja Biopharma intends to expand accessibility to patients everywhere by enabling a person’s body to do the work previously undertaken by complex and costly manufacturing processes. Its novel approach integrates the VivoVec in vivo delivery platform, RACR in vivo cell expansion platform, and the TumorTag targeting platform.

With a mission to push beyond today's immunotherapy limits, Umoja has made significant progress since its launch in November 2020, bringing key personnel on board in preparation for a rapid phase of growth and development. Now, the company is eager to get its lead programs in bone and blood cancer into the clinic, even as it continues to expand hiring both at its Seattle headquarters and the new facility in Colorado.

Umoja Biopharma is tapping into the Rockies for manufacturing innovation and will help itself to Colorado's large pool of talented, well-educated and highly skilled workers.

“The experienced workforce and extensive infrastructure made Boulder County a clear choice for Umoja’s new manufacturing home. We look forward to partnering with the community to build a facility that will make a truly meaningful impact on the future of cancer treatment,” said Umoja Co-founder and Chief Technical Officer, Ryan Crisman, Ph.D.

The new facility will ultimately help Umoja Biopharma to continue to meet the production demands for its life-saving medicines.

“With this facility and Umoja’s unique, integrated approach, we are rethinking the supply chain of CAR T therapies from the ground up, eliminating costly and time-consuming steps to streamline the process and ultimately make treatments more accessible,” Crisman said.

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