Advanced therapy CDMO Ascend nabs Florida manufacturing site and team from ocular gene therapy outfit Beacon

Though gene therapy manufacturing specialist Ascend Advanced Therapies just launched a little more than a year ago, the CDMO is already on the hunt to expand.

Ascend, which bills itself as an end-to-end gene therapy development partner, has picked up the chemistry, manufacturing and controls team and site of Beacon Therapeutics in Alachua, Florida, the company said in a release Tuesday. As part of the deal, Ascend has also agreed to a long-term partnership with Beacon to produce its gene therapies for clinical and commercial use.

Beacon, like Ascend, was founded in 2023. The Florida-based company focuses on ophthalmic gene therapies and currently has a late-stage clinical candidate to treat X-linked retinitis pigmentosa. The company is also working on two preclinical programs targeting dry age-related macular degeneration and cone-rod dystrophy.

Beacon’s advanced therapeutics are being designed to potentially restore patients’ vision or prevent disease progression, according to Ascend’s release.

Ascend says the facility it’s acquiring from Beacon in Alachua will mesh well with the other sites it’s picked up via acquisition, such as its early-stage R&D facility in the San Francisco Bay Area and its optimization and process development plant in Munich, which will soon bring quality control release capabilities online as well.

Ascend's headquarters are in North London.

With the three production sites, Ascend says it will soon boast the combined network and product experience needed to support gene therapy clients across all stages of development.

Ascend and Beacon closed their deal on April 1. The companies did not reveal the financial terms of the pact, nor did they say how many Beacon employees will be making the transition over to Ascend.

Ascend did not immediately respond to Fierce Pharma’s request for comment.

Ascend launched last March as Ascend Gene & Cell Therapies with $132.5 million in funding in hand. Originally founded by Monograph Capital, Ascend debuted with an emphasis on adeno-associated virus vectors, which are used to deliver genetic material into cells.

According to its inaugural release, the company offers process development, clinical manufacturing and analytical and regulatory support for biotechs working in advanced modalities that require flexible manufacturing services.

The company launched with around 120 employees.