AstraZeneca brings its cell therapy ambitions to Maryland with $300M plant investment, 150 planned hires

Following a slew of cell therapy biotech team-ups, AstraZeneca is taking manufacturing into its own hands.

Tuesday, the British pharma announced it will plug $300 million into a new facility in Rockville, Maryland, to launch its cell therapy platforms in the U.S. for cancer trials and future commercial supply. In turn, AZ will create more than 150 new jobs that will initially focus on producing T-cell therapies for global clinical trials.

Over time, the site may expand its focus to support other disease areas, AZ said in a Tuesday press release.

The site represents one of many recent cell therapy investments from AZ following team-ups with Quell Therapeutics, AbelZeta and Cellectis, not to mention the company’s $200 million purchase of Neogene Therapeutics in late 2022.

AstraZeneca’s new Rockville facility is less than five miles away from one of the company’s five global R&D centers. Moreover, the site is in close proximity to several universities, which should ease talent recruitment and retention, the company said.

The Rockville facility is slated to become part of AstraZeneca’s global manufacturing and supply network—comprising nearly 30 sites across 16 countries—that are either currently operational or under development.

In the U.S., where AZ is now digging into cell therapy, the company’s manufacturing sites mainly focus on production of small molecules and biologics, the company explained. Together, those U.S. manufacturing sites employ more than 2,600 full-time employees and deliver more than 9 billion doses of drugs per year.

When it comes to cell therapy, AstraZeneca is building a portfolio that aims to leverage and equip the immune system’s T cells to fight cancer more effectively.

The company is future-minded when it comes to the field, looking to engineer next-generation cell therapies that could potentially be pulled from an off-the-shelf library of patient-ready therapies developed from the cells of healthy donors.