Merck partner Artiva blueprints San Diego R&D, manufacturing site to take NK cell operation to the next level
In January, Artiva Biotherapeutics CEO Fred Aslan said his company is looking to create CAR-NK therapies with best-in-class efficacy made in a wholly owned manufacturing process. Artiva is now another step closer to that goal.
Artiva will open a 52,000 square-foot headquarters in San Diego that will house its R&D and manufacturing of NK cell therapies. The site will have a multi-suite, custom-built manufacturing facility up to current GMP standards and adds to its current manufacturing operations at GC LabCell’s 300,000-square-foot location in South Korea. This new site won’t replace what’s going on in Korea but double down on the amount of capacity the company has.
“We have this manufacturing system that will allow us to make thousands of doses of cells from a batch … so we already have a scaled process that’s allowed us to design this new manufacturing center in San Diego very efficiently,” COO Peter Flynn said in an interview. “It’s a custom facility for our process, and it will allow us not only to think about pipeline expansion, going forward, but also allow us to further refine the process to get ready for pivotal and ultimately registration of commercial manufacturing. So really, this is an eye on the future.”
The site is being built out of an already existing building and is expected to be finished in 2022. The offices will be filled shortly after, and Flynn said that manufacturing will likely commence by the start of 2023. Right now, the 2.5-year-old company operates out of a 13,000-square-foot space in San Diego.
The move is a big step for the biotech, which gained attention from Merck at the start of this year and signed a collaboration agreement worth nearly $2 billion. That deal taps Artiva’s tech to preserve, freeze and ship NK cell therapies without losing quality.
In February, the biotech kicked off a $120 million Series B financing round, bringing its total amount of funds raised to nearly $200 million.
“The NK cell therapy field is really inheriting a lot of the original excitement that was present with the CAR Ts,” Aslan said in a call with Endpoints Wednesday. “We feel that NK cells really will only live up to their promise to cancer patients if they can be manufactured and distributed like other biologic drugs like antibodies. ”
The site will be located at 5505 Morehouse Drive, exactly three miles from its current San Diego headquarters.