Charles River’s expansion to Alderley Park set to bolster UK cell and gene therapy manufacturing capability

Global cell and gene therapy development and manufacturing business expands into Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park to boost manufacturing capacity.The 17,000 sq ft high-specification lab space is currently under construction, expanding plasmid DNA and viral vector capabilities in Europe.The facility will support therapeutic developers with rapid access to High Quality plasmid, with manufacturing slots available from summer 2022.

Charles River, a leading global, end-to-end cell and gene therapy solution provider, is expanding into Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park, in Cheshire.

The move will enable the cell and gene therapy development and manufacturing business to increase its High Quality (HQ) plasmid DNA capacity four-fold to meet the growing global demand for cell and gene therapeutic developers from discovery to commercialisation. HQ plasmid, a critical starting material for immuno-oncology and CRISPR based therapies, adopts critical features of CGMP manufacturing, with a rapid six-week turnaround.

The new 17,000 sq ft high-specification lab space at Alderley Park is currently under construction, with the business investing £7m in brand new equipment to support the growing need of customers and to safeguard future supply. 

Charles River joins an existing cluster of drug discovery and development businesses based at the UK’s largest single site life science campus which also includes the likes of the Medicines Discovery Catapult, Sygnature Discovery, Evotec, and RedX Pharma. By joining Bruntwood SciTech’s national network, Charles River will also be able to tap into a wider collective of industry collaborators. 

The expansion follows Charles River’s acquisition of Keele-based Cobra Biologics, a pioneering plasmid DNA and viral vector cell and gene therapy contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO), in March 2021 and will see an additional 50 new positions created, from apprentices through to experienced scientists.     

Dr Kath Mackay, director of life sciences at Bruntwood SciTech, a joint venture partnership between Bruntwood and Legal & General, said: “The treatment of rare or intractable diseases demands decades of investment, perseverance and patience in order to identify successful therapies and treatments. Charles River’s UK expansion and move to Alderley Park signals its commitment to tackling this challenge by driving the development and manufacture of these vital medicines. It also represents Alderley Park’s growing reputation as a globally-recognised life sciences hub.”

Nick Smith, Alderley Park site director for Charles River, said: “We’re excited to expand our fit-for-purpose plasmid DNA and viral vector development and manufacturing capabilities in Europe. This expansion in particular enhances access to plasmid DNA that is in unprecedented demand. The additional supply of critical starting materials from a trusted and experienced partner enables therapeutic developers to confidently move forward with their programs and supports our mission to accelerate the delivery of innovative treatments to patients.

Alderley Park is an impressive life sciences hub, and we are honoured to join this thriving ecosystem as we grow. This expansion is one of many to follow as we continue to create a strong, integrated global network to reliably support our customers from discovery to commercialisation.”

Home to over 250 companies, the Alderley Park community also includes the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute as well as global cell therapy business Instil Bio, and precision medicine businesses Kinomica and Sutura Therapeutics.

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