North Carolina: A Thriving Gene and Cell Therapy Hub
North Carolina has quickly established itself as a leading hub of gene and cell therapy activity. As curative therapies emerge and bring new hope to patients with rare diseases and cancer, North Carolina’s life sciences ecosystem provides a compete end-to-end solution to bring life-changing therapies from concept to market.
The state’s gene and cell therapy sector is built upon world-class academic and corporate research and the largest concentration of clinical research organizations in the world. Pilot- and commercial-scale manufacturing capabilities bring these therapies to life. Our pool of top talent rounds out North Carolina’s strengths that fully support the growth of gene and cell therapy companies.
Gene therapy technology pioneered in North Carolina
In 1993, The University of North Carolina School of Medicine, with grant help from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, recruited gene therapy visionary Jude Samulski, Ph.D. Samulski pioneered the use of the harmless recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) as the premier delivery mechanism for gene therapy. This AAV technology is the foundation used by more than two-thirds of the gene therapy industry worldwide, was brought to life in a North Carolina university, and to commercial reality by Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio), a Research Triangle Park company cofounded by Samulski.
An Established Cluster
North Carolina’s gene and cell therapy cluster is broad and diverse. These companies are leaning on North Carolina’s deep expertise in life sciences to transform research into commercially viable products that can be manufactured at scale
Robust Talent Pipeline
A workforce of 67,000 grows each year, fueled by 4,900 biological and biomedical sciences graduates.
The community college system, working closely with industry, runs certificate and associate degree programs tailored specifically to industry needs. The system is providing customized training for cell- and gene-therapy facilities including Beam Therapeutics, bluebird bio, Novartis Gene Therapies, and more.
Workforce Programs Powered by NCBiotech
Bio Jobs Hub
Are you looking to land a new job or change careers? The newly launched Bio Jobs Hub is a resource that provides info on job opportunities within the life sciences. The site includes job descriptions, info on local training, a company directory and more.
Pfizer-NCBiotech Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship in Gene Therapy
The program is a partnership between Pfizer and NCBiotech that supports the scientific and professional development of postdoctoral fellows interested in establishing careers in gene therapy. NCBiotech continues to work with industry partners to tailor programs that meet workforce development needs.
NCBiotech also has a Veterans initiative to attract military veterans, service members in transition and military spouses to careers in biopharma manufacturing.
Advantageous business climate and exceptional quality of life
As a family-friendly and culturally rich state, North Carolina has something for everyone. In addition to our prime mid-Atlantic location, businesses expanding to North Carolina can take advantage of our targeted, performance-based incentive programs and low corporate income tax rate at 2.5%.
Raleigh ranked #3 for Best Place to Live Among State Capitals (WalletHub, 2021)
North Carolina ranked #1 for Business Climate (Site Selector, 2020)
North Carolina ranked State of the Year (Business Facilities, 2020)
North Carolina named Best State for Business (Forbes, 2019)
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center
Unlike any other state, North Carolina has a resource solely dedicated to the health of its life sciences sector. Since 1984, NCBiotech has taken a unique approach to statewide life sciences economic development and houses the capabilities to guide companies through the challenges encountered at all stages of growth. With headquarters in the Research Triangle Park, NCBiotech has funding programs, focused efforts in emerging sectors, and an in-house team of analysts among many other avenues of expertise.
To help develop North Carolina’s full potential in the growing areas of human therapeutics such as gene and cell therapies and precision health, NCPHC was formed. The NCPHC, facilitated by NCBiotech, is a strong and diverse group of leaders in research, healthcare, insurance, investment, policy and information technology who have partnered to accelerate initiatives to nurture research, equip providers, and engage industry in this sector.
In the academic space, UNC-CH created a dedicated Gene Therapy Center in 1993 to foster discovery and development in gene therapy research. Scientists have access to resources through two core facilities—the UNC Vector Core and Human Applications Laboratories—that ensure availability of gene therapy vectors needed for preclinical or clinical studies. The Gene Therapy Center was created to facilitate the progression and translation of gene therapy research from the laboratory bench into Phase 1 clinical trials to treat human disease.
So far, the Gene Therapy Center has initiated and completed a number of Phase 1 gene transfers including:
- Completion of first AAV gene delivery study for neurological disorder (Canavan Sic Trans-2012)
- Completion of the first AAV gene delivery study for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (NEJM 2010)
- Completion of first Limb Infusion Safety Study for DMD (Mol Ther 2012)
- Initiation of AAV gene transfer Phase 1 study for Hemophilia B patients using UNC modified FIX transgene
NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers
North Carolina has three NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers: Duke Cancer Institute, Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. More than 700 clinicians and researchers focus on cancer genetics and genomics, cellular therapies, clinical research, and cancer prevention and control, among others.
NCBiotech Company Directory
Visit the NCBiotech Company Directory to explore the 775 companies and almost 2,500 supporting businesses that make up our life sciences ecosystem. Search by company type, region and more.
Gene and Cell Therapy White Paper
North Carolina's life science strengths are creating an environment where gene and cell therapy companies are thriving. Download our white paper to learn how NC's strengths are advancing gene and cell therapies in today's market.