Bluebird buys manufacturing site to produce viral vector as it advances gene therapies

virus cell
Bluebird Bio has bought a manufacturing plant in the U.S. to make viral vector for its gene therapies.

Bluebird Bio has a pipeline of gene and cell therapies for treating genetic diseases that it hopes to bring to the market in the next four years and has taken a big step toward that end by buying a manufacturing plant.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech has picked up a manufacturing facility in Durham, North Carolina, which it will outfit for its own needs, the company announced today.

Once construction and validation is complete on the 125,000-square-foot facility, the site will produce lentiviral vector for the company’s gene and cell therapies, including Lenti-D, its gene therapy for cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (cALD), and LentiGlobin, its treatment candidate for sickle cell disease.  

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“Our goal is to bring multiple therapies to market over the next four years that can transform the lives of people suffering from severe genetic diseases and cancer,” Derek Adams, Bluebird Bio chief manufacturing and technology officer, said in a statement.

“Investing in a world-class manufacturing infrastructure is a crucial step in accomplishing that mission on behalf of the people who need these novel treatments.”

A company spokesman said the Bluebird paid $11.5 million for the manufacturing site but wouldn’t identify the seller. 

Gene therapies require special manufacturing to quickly turn around the personalized meds, and the company announced that it also has struck multiyear manufacturing agreements for the U.S. and Europe with Brammer Bio for its site in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Novasep for its site in Gosselies, Belgium, and with Merck KGaA’s MilliporeSigma, for its site in Carlsbad, California. It already had partnerships with Lonza for its site in Houston, Texas, and and apceth Biopharma in Munich, Germany.