Gilead fortifies its pioneering cell therapy status, expanding into three new facilities and teaming with NCI
After the company’s $12 billion buyout of Kite last year, Gilead is wasting no time cementing its status as a leader in cell therapy. The company announced plans Tuesday to beef up its operations with three new facilities around the globe — and inked a research agreement that could connect the company with more cutting-edge work in the field.
Becoming an overnight leader in adoptive cell therapy after its purchase of Kite, Gilead is now prioritizing the R&D and manufacture of these drugs. In the Netherlands, Gilead has leased a 117,000 square-foot manufacturing site in Hoofddorp, allowing the company to make and deliver cell therapies to people living with cancer in Europe. Among other drugs, the facility will manufacture the CAR-T axicabtagene ciloleucel (which goes under the brand name Yescarta here in the US). The therapy is currently under review by the European Medicines Agency.
“This new European manufacturing facility will enable personalized cell therapies to be manufactured in closer geographic proximity to the patients who will receive them, potentially shortening the turnaround time for people who urgently need care,” said Gilead’s president and CEO John Milligan in a statement.
On top of the Netherlands facility, Kite bought a new building in Santa Monica — where it’s long been headquartered — from Astellas Pharma. That facility will be used for cell therapy R&D and the expansion of clinical manufacturing capabilities, the company said.
On the other side of the coast, Kite has leased a 26,000 square-foot building in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which will serve as home base for a new research project with the National Cancer Institute. You’ll note that NCI is home to Steve Rosenberg, who’s pioneered the development of immunotherapies and gene therapies for advanced cancers. That Cooperative Research and Development Agreement will focus on developing adoptive cell therapies targeting patient-specific tumor neoantigens.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of advancing cell therapy, which we believe has the potential to transform cancer treatment,” said Alessandro Riva, Gilead’s head of cell therapy and executive VP of oncology therapeutics, in a statement. “The addition of these three new facilities and the expanded CRADA with our research collaborators at the NCI will help us bring cell therapies to more people with cancer around the world.”
This is the latest in a series of steps Gilead has taken to ramp up its efforts in next-gen cell therapy. These three new facilities — along with the new NCI research agreement — come just months after Gilead agreed to acquire Cell Design Labs in a $567 million deal.