From CA to WA: Sana cell therapy plant switch up to save $100m

In what the firm describes as a “prudent” move, Sana has turned its back on a cell therapy facility in Fremont, California, instead leasing a plant in Bothell, Washington.

In February 2021, allogeneic cell therapy developer Sana Therapeutics launched “the largest-ever IPO for a preclinical biotech company,” according to Reuters, raising $587.5 million. Months later, the firm leased 163,193 square feet of manufacturing space in a Fremont, California but a cost-saving initiative has seen the firm announce plans to relocate to Washington state.

“We were presented with a new opportunity that offered significant financial benefits for the company while retaining control of our manufacturing long-term,” a Sana spokesperson told BioProcess Insider.

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“An estimated savings of over $100 million seemed prudent. We are excited about this facility, as it is close to our corporate headquarters in Seattle and provides significant cost savings compared to our previously planned Fremont, CA facility. We are also excited to tap into the local Seattle area talent when we begin operating this plant.”

Bothell, located 15 miles northeast from Seattle, Washington, has a well-established biotechnology manufacturing presence with existing pre-clinical and clinical companies. Bristol-Myer Squibb (through the Celgene acquisition) makes its approved CAR-T therapy Breyanzi (lisocabtagene maraleucel; liso-cel) from a facility in the area, SeaGen has a large site nearby, and CDMO AGC Biologics is also located in the region.

The 80,000 square-foot facility, located at 3555 Monte Villa Parkway, Bothell, will cost Sana approximately $300,000 per month for the first year in base rent, according to an SEC filing. This is more than the base rent at the Fremont site, which was approximately $200,000 per month for the first year.

“This is an existing building that we are leasing and will need to be built out,” we were told. “We will begin the design phase immediately. The Bothell facility will be designed to support the manufacturing of Sana’s multiple product candidates across the company’s cell and gene therapy portfolio as they enter late-stage clinical development and early commercial supply.”