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AstraZeneca announces new $300 million Maryland facility – Bio.News

AstraZeneca recently announced that it is investing $300 million in a Rockville, MD facility “to launch its life-saving cell therapy platforms in the US for critical cancer trials and future commercial supply.” This state-of-the-art facility represents the company’s latest investment in cell therapy following collaborations with Quell Therapeutics, AbelZeta, Cellectis, and the acquisition of Neogene Therapeutics

“We are incredibly excited that more than 150 new highly skilled jobs are being created to bring our scientific work and therapies to clinical trials which could transform the lives of patients around the world,” said Pam Cheng, Executive Vice President of Global Operations & IT and Chief Sustainability Officer at AstraZeneca. “This new $300 million investment will accelerate our ambition to make next-generation cell therapy a reality, ensuring that we are ready to scale and meet the demands of patients.”

The facility is scheduled to be fully operational in 2026.

Maryland’s biotech sector grows

“AstraZeneca and the State of Maryland share a deep commitment to innovation,” said Maryland Governor Wes Moore of the project. “It makes us the perfect pairing for this next-generation cell therapy facility. This significant investment in our life sciences sector will help maintain Maryland’s leadership in the industry and sharpen our competitive edge. We are deeply grateful for AstraZeneca’s partnership and continued commitment to our state.”

AstraZeneca’s investment is yet another step in Maryland’s commitment to grow the state’s biotech industry, coming on the heels of the October 2023 event that saw the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) partner with the University of Maryland at Baltimore BioPark. At the event, Governor Moore heard firsthand from many of Maryland’s leading life sciences companies, including AstraZeneca, about the importance of Maryland’s growing biotech industry in the coming years—with plans to continue and support that growth on the state level. 

As of 2021, Maryland had “3,104 bioscience industry establishments employing 49,945 workers with an average wage of $140,498,” according to a report published by BIO in June 2023

AstraZeneca’s new Rockville facility will create more than 150 new highly skilled jobs in Maryland focusing on “manufacturing T-cell therapies to enable clinical trials to be conducted around the world.” There is also the possibility that the site will further expand its focus to support other disease areas in the future. 

“To assist with project costs, the Maryland Department of Commerce is working to approve a $500,000 conditional loan through the Advantage Maryland program,” Gov. Moore’s office wrote in a press release. “Montgomery County is planning to provide a $100,000 conditional grant through its Economic Development Fund. The company is also eligible for various other incentives, including the More Jobs for Marylanders program and the state’s Job Creation Tax Credit.”

“While Maryland’s pool of talented life science professionals continues to grow, so does the amount of career opportunities in the industry. We are very grateful to AstraZeneca for planning to bring approximately 150 new jobs to Montgomery County over the next few years,” said Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kevin Anderson. “We look forward to watching this facility become a major player for the company and the life sciences community in Maryland.”

AstraZeneca advances cell therapy portfolio

The new Rockville facility is part of AstraZeneca’s growing cell therapy portfolio, which “aims to empower and equip the immune system’s T-cells to more effectively fight cancer.” 

“The company’s research teams are exploring new ways to target and arm CAR-Ts to increase their effectiveness in solid tumors by overcoming the immune-suppressive tumor microenvironment,” AstraZeneca explained in their press release.

The facility will engineer next-generation cell therapies. These therapies would allow physicians to potentially “select from a library of off-the-shelf, patient-ready therapies already developed from the cells of healthy donors.” The facility is also well placed, being located “within the booming life sciences corridor in Maryland. With close proximity to several universities, the life sciences ecosystem provides an attractive environment for recruiting new and experienced talent.”

“AstraZeneca’s decision to invest and build its CAR-T therapy manufacturing operation in Montgomery County affirms our role as a global leader in cell therapy and related technologies,” said Montgomery County Executive, Marc Elrich. “We are excited about their plans to locate this facility here, expanding jobs and adding to the important work thousands of AstraZeneca employees already do here in the county every day.”

“Montgomery County is at the epicenter of cell and gene therapy, anchoring the third largest life sciences hub in the U.S.,” added Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Tompkins. “We are home to innovation and life-saving treatments that make a positive global impact. And we are thrilled that AstraZeneca continues to grow and invest in new technologies here in Montgomery County, which will ultimately lead to greater economic viability for our region.”