Bluebird bio to Sell Durham Plant in Strategic Alliance with Biomanufacturer

Bluebird bio's NC facility
Bluebird bio's Durham manufacturing facility, to become Resilience. -- bluebird bio photo

Bluebird bio, a Massachusetts-based gene and cell therapy company with operations in North Carolina, will sell its Durham biomanufacturing plant to National Resilience for $110 million as part of a strategic alliance between the two companies.

Bluebird’s 100-plus technical and administrative staff will continue to work at the Durham plant, but as Resilience employees. The 125,000-square-foot facility manufactures lentiviral vector, a critical component for cell and gene therapies.

Resilience will continue to support vector supply for both bluebird bio and 2seventy bio, bluebird’s spin-off oncology cell therapy company that is expected to launch by the end of this year. The two companies are also finalizing an agreement to establish partner programs that will share expense and revenue for successful commercialized oncology products and in parallel establish a next-generation manufacturing R&D collaboration.

“As we continue to pivot toward the planned separation of bluebird and 2seventy, this strategic partnership allows us to share risk, streamline our business operations, provide additional capital and importantly ensures uninterrupted access to vector supply as we develop additional transformative treatments,” said Nick Leschly, head of bluebird.

The two companies said they would collaborate on the next phase of 2seventy’s pipeline, each applying their respective innovations in cell therapy development and manufacturing through a risk-sharing model.

“This alliance supports our vision of innovative product participation business models, and bluebird’s demonstrated leadership and expertise in the field of gene and cell therapy makes them an ideal partner for this next phase of growth,” said Rahul Singhvi, Sc.D, chief executive officer of Resilience. “Further, the acquisition of the (Durham) facility gives us an important strategic presence in the Research Triangle region with one of the largest and most technically advanced facilities focused exclusively on cell and gene therapy manufacturing.”

The Durham facility includes drug substance and drug product production suites, quality control testing laboratories and warehousing space as well as additional footprint for future expansion.

Resilience logo

Resilience said it would continue to invest in new technologies and workforce expansion at the Durham site as part of the company’s mission to build a digitally connected, end-to-end biomanufacturing ecosystem.

Resilience, backed by more than $800 million in venture capital, was founded in 2020 in La Jolla, Calif., with the ambition of building the world’s most advanced biopharmaceutical manufacturing network to broaden access to complex medicines and protect biopharmaceutical supply chains against disruption. The company provides manufacturing and development services to biopharmaceutical companies on a contract basis, freeing those companies to focus their resources on new drug discovery.

The bluebird purchase is the latest in a series of biomanufacturing facility acquisitions by Resilience in the United States and Canada. Upon completion of the Durham acquisition, Resilience’s biomanufacturing network will include 10 sites in North America with more than 1 million square feet of manufacturing, development and support space.

Bluebird, a publicly held company based in Cambridge, Mass., is developing gene and cell therapies for cancers and genetic diseases including cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy, sickle cell disease, β-thalassemia and multiple myeloma using three gene therapy technologies: gene addition, cell therapy and gene editing. The company has additional sites in Seattle and Zug, Switzerland.

Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
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