US-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer has announced an additional investment of $500m (approximately £411m) in the construction of an advanced gene therapy manufacturing facility in Sanford, North Carolina.

Pfizer said that it is investing in facilities focused on all stages of research, development, and manufacturing to expand its end-to-end capabilities in gene therapy in North Carolina.

The new facility is expected to advance the company’s manufacturing capabilities of highly specialised one-time gene therapies using custom-made recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors.

In addition, the facility would strengthen the company’s presence in North Carolina, where it currently hired more than 3,600 employees, including 650 in Sanford. The new facility would add approximately 300 new jobs.

Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group president Angela Hwang said: “At Pfizer, our purpose is breakthroughs that change patients’ lives. We’re excited to build this new state-of-the-art facility in Sanford because it will have the potential to help us develop novel methods to deliver transformative treatments to patients.”

Pfizer strengthens gene therapy medicines production and supply capabilities

Pfizer intends to strengthen its production and supply capabilities of critical, potentially life-changing gene therapy medicines by expanding its manufacturing footprint in Sanford.

Similar to its research and development sites in Chapel Hill and Kit Creek in North Carolina, the new facility is expected to support the company’s ongoing investment in gene therapy research and development.

Pfizer said that scientists at its Kit Creek facility are working at a small scale, from 2L flasks up to 250L bioreactors, to develop the process that could be used in larger scale manufacturing.

The process is optimised at the Chapel Hill facility, where professionals are working on a 250L scale, implementing quality control measures with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards.

Pfizer said that combined with its existing and new additional investment to manufacture gene therapies, it is focusing on efficient supply of gene therapies at clinical- and commercial-scale.

Pfizer global supply president Mike McDermott said: “This investment will further strengthen Pfizer’s leadership in gene therapy manufacturing technology.

“The expansion of the Sanford site is expected to create hundreds of highly skilled jobs, which would increase Sanford’s high-tech manufacturing environment and is part of our overall plan to invest approximately $5 billion in U.S.-based capital projects over the next several years.”