Catalent injects $130M into Maryland cell and gene therapy site drafted into COVID-19 vaccine hunt

Catalent Bloomington, Indiana plant
New Jersey's Catalent is working with multiple frontrunners in the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Catalent)

New Jersey contract manufacturer Catalent has been right in the mix in the COVID-19 response effort, signing pacts to help produce frontrunners in the vaccine hunt. Now, the company is fleshing out a Maryland facility to aid in that effort—and position Catalent's cell and gene therapy offerings well into the future. 

Catalent will infuse $130 million into its cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility in Harmans, Maryland, to broaden the  CDMO's late-stage production capacity, the company said Wednesday. 

The newest investment will add five late-stage clinical and commercial manufacturing suites to the Harmans site, expected to go online in the first half of 2022, Catalent said. 

That expansion will bring the total number of manufacturing suites to 15 at the planned 350,000-square-foot complex near the Baltimore/Washington International airport. The Harmans facility recently received FDA approval for commercial production, and its initial 10 manufacturing suites are set to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2021. 

The five new suites will be located in a second building at the site that will also house cold-storage warehousing and added office space, Catalent said. The Harmans complex is one of five Maryland sites for Catalent's cell and gene therapy manufacturing portfolio.

Adding capacity at its Harmans site is a future play for Catalent in the bustling cell and gene therapy space, but the facility could also benefit the CDMO's immediate COVID-19 response efforts. 

RELATED: AstraZeneca ropes in Catalent gene therapy site to produce viral vectors for COVID-19 vaccine

Catalent's work will include production of viral vectors for a genetically modified form of the adenovirus used in Oxford's shot, dubbed AZD1222. The modified virus, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, aims to induce a lasting immune response to spike proteins added to the virus's surface.