Roche's Spark unit blueprints $575M gene therapy manufacturing center in Philly

Roche’s Spark Therapeutics unit is pitching $575 million into a new gene therapy manufacturing facility at Drexel University’s Philadelphia campus that will work towards the next generation of genetic medicines.

The initial investment will fund the construction of a new gene therapy innovation center to provide collaboration opportunities between Spark and Drexel University. This will more than double Spark’s physical footprint, CEO and co-founder Jeff Marrazzo said in a statement Friday.

“We're poised for continued growth as we seek to develop the next generation of genetic medicines as a member of the Roche Group,” he said.

Spark came under Roche’s wing in 2019 with a focus on developing gene therapies for diseases of the eye, liver and central nervous system. The new facility will add 1 million square feet of space to “bring hundreds of the greatest minds in gene therapy together under one roof,” according to the Friday release.

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The facility will serve as a “Roche global center of excellence” for manufacturing gene therapies and be added to the Swiss pharma’s list of worldwide product development sites. Construction is set to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Besides plans to build the facility, Spark did not share what they intend to manufacture or any particular research priorities.

Spark recently signed a $328.5 million biobucks deal for CombiGene’s epilepsy gene therapy in October.