VectorBuilder to spend $500M to construct gene therapy manufacturing site in China

Chicago-based VectorBuilder will drop $500 million over the next four years in a two-phase project to build a new gene therapy manufacturing facility and research institute in Guangzhou, China.

The CDMO, which specializes in gene delivery solutions, said when the project is completed the site will boast 200,000 square meters of space that will accommodate more than 2,000 employees. The facility will have 30 production suites to produce plasmids, mRNA, AAV, lentivirus, cell lines and other forms of viral and non-viral vectors.

The campus will also offer CRO services and a research institute focused on developing new gene delivery technologies, the company said.

VectorBuilder, which was founded in 2015, didn’t disclose who is providing financial support for construction, though it did say the project is just one element in the company’s plans to expand manufacturing and R&D sites in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

“With the recent advancement of genetic medicine, gene vectors are now rapidly moving into clinical use, including CAR-T, gene therapy, mRNA vaccines and oncolytic viruses,” Bruce Lahn, chief scientist at VectorBuilder, said in a statement. “We are therefore expanding our R&D capabilities, as well as our manufacturing capacity, to continue leading the way in the development of innovative gene delivery technologies.”

The industry, spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic and other advancements in cell and gene therapies, has spent billions in the past few years to upgrade manufacturing facilities to handle the complicated process of producing such treatments.

In just the past few months, Regeneron announced a deeper dive into gene therapy by partnering with ViGeneron to work on a retinal disease prospect based on engineered recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors (vgAAVs), and scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University announced they uncovered a potential way to cut the CAR-T processing time from the usual two or more weeks to a single day by using an implant.

In February, Recipharm bought two companies—Arranta Bio and Vibalogics—to build up its biologics offerings. Arranta specializes in microbiome therapeutic products and mRNA clinical production, while Vibalogics focuses on the production of oncolytic viruses, viral vaccines and gene therapies.