CBM and UPenn enter gene therapy manufacturing pact

A five-year deal will see the Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CBM) gain commercial rights to certain gene therapy manufacturing and analytics platforms from the University of Pennsylvania.

The King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) has entered a collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Gene Therapy Program (GTP) to help small biotech firms, universities, and large pharma firms advance gene therapies through the clinic.

The collaboration brings CBM access to UPenn’s gene therapy expertise, which has helped see the success of several programs – including leading the discovery of new adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors, including one used in Novartis’ approved gene therapy Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec).

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Image: Stock Photo Secrets

CBM will be the only for-profit CDMO with commercial rights to certain gene therapy manufacturing platforms, advanced analytics, and future process or analytical improvements achieved through its collaboration with UPenn’s GTP.

CBM, itself fresh from a $350 million investment from Korean investment firm SK Inc, described the partnership as a “powerhouse combination” in a LinkedIn statement.

Cofounder Audrey Greenberg added: “This agreement represents a giant leap forward for the Center for Breakthrough Medicines and its mission to accelerate the development and manufacturing of life-saving gene therapies. This partnership with the GTP at Penn enables our clients the potential to advance to Investigational New Drugs with a high-quality process, materials and analytical methods.”

While no official financials have been disclosed by the CDMO, the Philadelphia Business Journal stated Tuesday that under terms of the deal Penn will receive up to $100 million in sponsored research funding over 15 years.

The agreement also comes eight months after UPenn’s GTP entered a multi-year lease for over 150,000 square feet of lab space from Discovery Labs, one of the founding companies behind CBM.

““Dr. Wilson and his incredible team at Penn have helped establish Philadelphia as a leader in gene therapies, and we are deeply honored to have the opportunity to work with him and his incredible team of scientists through the expansion of their world-class research and development labs,” Brian O’Neill, founder of Discovery Labs said in May 2021.

“To welcome Penn’s Gene Therapy Program as the anchor tenant for our planned life sciences cluster here in King of Prussia is strong validation for the incredible life science ecosystem that is emerging in Greater Philadelphia.”

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