New facility in Rockville, Maryland will focus on manufacturing for critical cancer trials and launch of its commercial cell therapy platforms
AstraZeneca is investing $300M in a state-of-the-art facility in Rockville, MD to launch its life-saving cell therapy platforms in the US for critical cancer trials and future commercial supply. More than 150 new highly skilled jobs will be created to initially focus on manufacturing T-cell therapies to enable clinical trials to be conducted around the world. Over time, the site may expand its focus to support other disease areas.
The site represents the latest investment in cell therapy for AstraZeneca following collaborations with Quell therapeutics, AbelZeta, Cellectis, and the acquisition of Neogene Therapeutics.
Pam Cheng, Executive Vice President of Global Operations & IT and Chief Sustainability Officer, AstraZeneca, said: “We are incredibly excited that more than 150 new highly skilled jobs are being created to bring our scientific work and therapies to clinical trials which could transform the lives of patients around the world. This new $300M investment will accelerate our ambition to make next-generation cell therapy a reality, ensuring that we are ready to scale and meet the demands of patients.”
The facility in Rockville, MD is located less than five miles away from one of the company’s five global R&D centers and sits within the booming life sciences corridor in Maryland. With close proximity to several universities, the life sciences ecosystem provides an attractive environment for recruiting new and experienced talent.
Maryland Governor Wes Moore said: “AstraZeneca and the State of Maryland share a deep commitment to innovation. It makes us the perfect pairing for this next-generation cell therapy facility. This significant investment in our life sciences sector will help maintain Maryland’s leadership in the industry and sharpen our competitive edge. We are deeply grateful for AstraZeneca’s partnership and continued commitment to our state.”
The Rockville facility will join AstraZeneca’s global manufacturing and supply network of nearly 30 manufacturing and supply sites in 16 countries, which are either currently operational or under development across the company. In the US, AstraZeneca’s manufacturing sites focus on the production of small molecules and biologics, harnessing leading pharmaceutical technology and development. Together, the US manufacturing sites employ more than 2,600 full-time employees and deliver more than 9 billion doses of medicines annually.
AstraZeneca in oncology cell therapy
AstraZeneca is building a cell therapy portfolio that aims to empower and equip the immune system’s T-cells to more effectively fight cancer. The company's research teams are exploring new ways to target and arm CAR-Ts to increase their effectiveness in solid tumours by overcoming the immune-suppressive tumour microenvironment. Looking to the future, AstraZeneca is working to engineer next-generation cell therapies, where physicians could potentially select from a library of off-the-shelf patient-ready therapies already developed from the cells of healthy donors.
AstraZeneca is advancing multiple armoured autologous CAR-T, including Glypican 3 (GPC3) targeting CAR-Ts in hepatocellular carcinoma. AZD5851, currently in Phase I, is being developed globally, and AZD7003 / C-CAR031 is being co-developed with AbelZeta in China where it is under evaluation in an Investigator Initiated Trial (IIT).
Also, in early development is AZD6422, a novel Claudin 18.2 targeting CAR-T currently being evaluated in solid tumours in an IIT in China, in collaboration with AbelZeta, and AZD0754, a preclinical stage STEAP2 targeting CAR-T that will be investigated in prostate cancer.
Beyond this, the company is advancing a pipeline of novel T-cell receptor therapies (TCR-Ts) through Neogene Therapeutics, a wholly owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca. This includes NT-125, a fully individualized TCR-T, NT-175, a TP53 mutant targeting TCR-T and NT-112, a KRAS mutant targeting TCR-T, all in Phase I clinical trials in solid tumors.