The Massachusetts Center for Advanced Biological Innovation and Manufacturing has obtained $76 million in funding and signed a lease for a 40,000-square foot site in Watertown, Mass. for the manufacturing and innovation of new biotechnologies, it announced in a press release Thursday.
A public-private partnership led by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CABIM was formed in late 2019 to foster partnerships between academics, biopharma, and medical leaders to accelerate the production and delivery of new treatment technologies to patients.
Harvard led the fundraising effort, along with other founding members of CABIM — including MIT, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, Cytiva, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., which owns and operates the business park where the center will be located, called The Arsenal on the Charles.
Other investors include several Harvard-affiliated medical institutions — Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital — as well as MilliporeSigma, a biotech company.
The initial funding will support building efforts, a staff of 40 full-time employees, and daily operations, according to the release.
University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 said in the press release that a collaborative effort to find innovative ways to treat diseases has significant benefits during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“At a time when we face a devastating global pandemic, collaboration between the greatest innovators in the life science community has never felt more important or had more to contribute to knowledge and human health,” Garber said.
He added that the Center will tap into “the region’s life science ecosystem and intellectual capital to discover new approaches to prevent and treat illness.”
Bottlenecks in biomanufacturing often result in delays of up to 18 months for new therapies in clinical trial stages, according to the press release. The Center’s mission is to accelerate this process by combining research and development, manufacturing, and commercialization in the same space.
The Center’s research and development will focus on cell and gene therapy, gene editing, immunotherapy, and biotechnology, including CAR-T cell therapy, which modifies the body’s T cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells. These types of immunotherapies “offer the potential to treat or even cure” diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, according to the press release.
CABIM plans to include eight cleanrooms in the manufacturing facility and to adhere to “good manufacturing practices,” according to the release. Notably, the Center will also produce both cell and viral vector products.
Vice Provost for Research Richard McCullough wrote in an emailed statement that the Center will include cross-industry collaborative spaces.
“This facility will house academic, hospital and biopharmaceutical organizations – all committed to working together in advancing high-risk, high-cost pursuits with the potential for high patient impact,” McCullough wrote. “The center will be highly adaptable to ever-changing technology, and a unique platform for talent development in a rapidly growing field, where there is a widely acknowledged critical need for a workforce with specialized skills.”
CABIM will decide on an official name for the Center and its leadership team in the upcoming months. The Center plans to begin operation in 2022.
–Staff writer Meimei Xu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meimeixu7.