Audentes to join gene therapy hub in North Carolina with $109m facility

California-based biopharma will join the likes of Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Bluebird Bio with a 135,000 sqft gene therapy facility planned in North Carolina

Artist render of the Audentes facility

Audentes Therapeutics, an Astellas company focused on developing innovative AAV-based genetic medicines, has announced plans to invest $109 million to build a new 135,000 sqft state-of-the-art gene therapy manufacturing facility in Sanford, North Carolina.

The initial phase of the capital investment is planned to occur over approximately 18 months, and the plant is expected to be operational in 2021. The remaining investment will take place over two additional planned expansion phases.

With the investment, the company plans to create over 200 new jobs in Lee County.

“Our investment in large-scale manufacturing has always been a cornerstone of our strategy to develop and ultimately deliver our important genetic medicines to patients as rapidly as possible. This new facility in Sanford will support the next phase of our growth as we establish a robust, global supply chain and expand our therapeutic and geographic scope as a part of the Astellas group of companies,” said Natalie Holles, President and CEO of Audentes.

“With our powerhouse research centers and highly-skilled workforce, biotech pioneers recognise North Carolina’s role as a leader in the life sciences,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “Lee County is a perfect fit for Audentes as they seek to become a global leader in genetic medicines.”

“Audentes Therapeutics is joining one of the nation’s top life science clusters,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland. “North Carolina has the largest biomanufacturing workforce in the nation and a growing concentration of gene therapy scientists, researchers and workers.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce led the state’s support for the company’s decision. In addition to N.C. Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, other key partners in the project include the North Carolina General Assembly, North Carolina Community College System, Lee County, Sanford Area Growth Alliance, City of Sanford, and North Carolina Biotechnology Center.