- Pfizer, Inc. will invest $100 million in the Sanford, North Carolina gene therapy facility it acquired when it bought Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc. last year.
- The investment, which could create about 40 jobs, will upgrade the site to a clinical and commercial manufacturing facility.
- Expansion of the site is supported by a performance-based grant of $250,000 from the One North Carolina Fund, provided job creation targets are met. The North Carolina Governor's office, which announced the move, said it expected the new jobs would deliver a total payroll boost of $3.9 million to the area.
Not usually known for its work in gene therapy, Pfizer has been building its presence in the space since 2014, when it announced a dedicated gene therapy research program. Since then, the pharma giant has expanded its in-house portfolio, inking collaborations with companies like Spark Therapeutics, Inc. and Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc.
Almost a year ago, Pfizer bought Bamboo Therapeutics in a deal worth up to $645 million — with $150 million upfront for the University of North Carolina spinout.
The deal gave Pfizer a pipeline of four clinical AAV-based gene therapy programs and the 11,000 square foot gene therapy manufacturing facility at Sanford. Known as Vector Core, the site was originally owned by the University of North Carolina.
Gene therapy as a field appears on the cusp of major advances, even though the commercial potential of such therapies is still unclear.
On one hand, investments from big pharma companies like Pfizer underscore the emerging potential of the space. But on the other, difficulties in selling the first two commercial gene therapies in Europe — Uniqure B.V.'s Glybera (alipogene tiparvovec) and GlaxoSmithKline plc's Strimvelis — attests to the challenges remaining.