WuXi dives into the CAR-T fray with new plant plans

WuXi CEO Ge Li

WuXi PharmaTech ($WX), China's largest CRO, is positioning itself to cash in on the fervor over new immunotherapies for cancer, planning to build a U.S. facility devoted to manufacturing the newfangled cell therapies.

The company is plotting a 145,000-square-foot facility in the Philadelphia area, expanding upon its existing plants in the region with plans to open the outpost by the middle of next year. The new manufacturing facility will be particularly suited for CAR-T therapies, in which scientists remove T cells from a patient's blood and equip them with targeting mechanisms called chimeric antigen receptors, which seek out and bind to proteins expressed by cancer cells.

WuXi's plan is to provide single-source contract development and manufacturing services to the bevy of companies now working in the CAR-T space, anticipating a burgeoning market need over the next few years.

Leaders in the field Novartis ($NVS), Juno Therapeutics ($JUNO) and Kite Pharma ($KITE) have already made moves to secure their own manufacturing operations, but the allure of CAR-T therapies has drawn more than a dozen companies into the fray. Celgene ($CELG), Pfizer ($PFE), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and others have all piled into the space over the past year, and WuXi is betting the market for related services will only continue to grow.

"Cell therapies like CAR-T cells offer important new treatment options for cancer patients, and WuXi aims to be at the forefront of this area of providing our partners with cutting-edge cGMP manufacturing capabilities and capacities," CEO Ge Li said in a statement.

- read the statement

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