After announcing plans last summer to build its manufacturing facility in California, Sana Biotechnology has changed course. The cell and gene therapy company will now develop an 80,000 square foot facility in Bothell, Wash., near its Seattle headquarters.
The new site is expected to result in more than $100 million in cost savings over the previous site in the San Francisco Bay Area. The move also enables the company to tap into Seattle’s cell therapy manufacturing workforce, built up by institutions including Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and a slate of cell therapy companies.
Sana will lease an existing building and build it out for manufacturing.
“This new facility enables us to continue to develop our internal manufacturing with no anticipated impact to the timing of our programs, and in a more cost-effective manner,” said Sana CEO Steve Harr in a statement Wednesday announcing the new site. “Importantly, we continue to attract the strong talent needed to execute on this vision and our pipeline more broadly,” he added.
Sana also announced that it hired the former head of cell therapy manufacturing at Bristol Myers Squibb, Snehal Patel, who will now serve as Sana’s head of manufacturing. Patel was also previously site head for BMS’ Bothell cell therapy manufacturing operations, where its “CAR T” cell therapy product Breyanzi is made.
Sana raised $587 million in February 2021 when it went public in the largest ever IPO for a preclinical stage biotech company. The company expects to file its first two investigational new drug applications this year with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a key step towards clinical trials, Sana’s vice president of finance Nicole Keith told GeekWire.
Those applications will be for two CAR T cell therapy products for B cell malignancies. One is an “off the shelf” product derived from donor cells and the other is a product is designed to deliver therapeutic cargo inside the body through fusion with T cells.
Ultimately, the company aims to manufacture its products in the new building as they enter later-stage clinical development and early commercialization.
The company no longer has plans to build out the previously-announced facility, which was slated to be about double the size of the Bothell plant. “We have not announced specific plans for the lease in California at this time, but are confident we will be able to find a solution quickly,” said Keith.
The new facility will add to the growing list of biopharma manufacturing operations in the Seattle area. Lyell Immunopharma completed its cell manufacturing facility in Bothell last year, and Seagen recently announced it will build a new 270,000 square foot facility in Everett. Bill Gates recently cut the ribbon on a regional vaccine plant built by Inventprise, and Just-Evotec Biologics also has a new regional plant.
In addition to hiring Patel, Sana has brought on Julie Lepin as head of regulatory, safety and quality. Lepin was previously vice president of regulatory affairs for oncology at Amgen.