Biotechnology company bluebird bio will open its third U.S. site at a 125,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Durham.
bluebird, which develops gene and cell therapies for severe genetic diseases and T cell-based immunotherapies for cancer, is making investments in manufacturing infrastructure to advance its clinical and potentially commercial production. The company plans to hire about 50 employees to work in the new site, at 1733 T.W. Alexander Drive.
“We have been executing on our long-term manufacturing strategy over past year,” said Derek Adams, chief technology and manufacturing officer. “It was clear we needed to secure both internal and external manufacturing capacity.”
The location will produce lentiviral vector for the company’s gene and cell therapies.
Renovation work on the existing building at the site will begin in early 2018.
Adams explained that the company chose Durham for its new site because of the abundance of talent in the area and because it offers relatively convenient access to the company’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. The company also searched for a facility that would suit its manufacturing needs.
“We looked at a variety of places in North Carolina, especially in the Raleigh-Durham area,” Adams said. “It’s an attractive area for biological manufacturing.”
The company also considered locations in the Boston area and in Maryland, as well as internationally.
The site will help bluebird maintain relationships with its external manufacturing partners, including Brammer Bio in Massachusetts, Novasep in Belgium and MilliporeSigma in California. These partners are collaborating with bluebird on its production of lentiviral vector.
“We are working together with them and with internal manufacturing to execute on this strategy,” Adams said. “Both pieces are essential parts.”
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Economic Development Award program has committed to financially support bluebird when it reaches specific job creation targets, Adams said.
The company went public in 2013 and raised about $116 million. Along with its headquarters in Massachusetts, it also has locations in Seattle and Switzerland.