Sana Biotechnology to Build Factory in Seattle Area, Leaving California – GeekWire

Steve Harr, CEO of Sana. (Sana Photo)

After announcing its intention to build its manufacturing plant in California last summer, Sana Biotechnology has changed course. The cell and gene therapy company will now develop an 80,000 square foot facility in Bothell, Washington, near its Seattle headquarters.

The new site is expected to generate more than $100 million in savings compared to the previous site in the San Francisco Bay Area. The move also allows the company to tap into Seattle’s cell therapy manufacturing workforce, built by institutions such as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and a list of cell therapy companies.

Sana will rent an existing building and construct it for manufacturing.

“This new facility allows us to continue to expand our in-house manufacturing without an anticipated impact on our program schedule, and in a more cost-effective manner,” Sana CEO Steve Harr said in a statement Wednesday announcing the new site. “Importantly, we continue to attract the strong talent needed to deliver on this vision and our pipeline more broadly,” he added.

Sana also announced that it has hired former Cell Therapy Manufacturing Manager at Bristol Myers Squibb, Snehal Patel, who will now serve as Sana’s Manufacturing Manager. Patel was also previously site manager for BMS’s Bothell cell therapy manufacturing operations, where its “CAR T” cell therapy product Breyanzi is manufactured.

Sana’s new head of manufacturing, Snehal Patel. (Sana Photo)

Sana raised $587 million last February when it went public in the largest IPO ever for a preclinical-stage biotech company. The company plans to file its first two Investigational New Drug Applications this year with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a key step toward clinical trials, Sana Vice President of Finance Nicole Keith told GeekWire.

These applications will relate to two CAR T cell therapy products for B-cell malignancies. One is a “ready-to-use” product derived from donor cells and the other is a product designed to deliver therapeutic cargo to the inside the body by fusion with T cells.

Ultimately, the company aims to manufacture its products in the new building as they enter a later stage of clinical development and early commercialization.

The company no longer intends to build the previously announced facility, which was expected to be approximately double the size of the Bothell plant. “We haven’t announced any specific plans for the California lease at this time, but we’re confident we can find a solution quickly,” Keith said.

The new facility will add to the growing list of biopharmaceutical manufacturing operations in the Seattle area. Lyell Immunopharma completed its cell manufacturing facility in Bothell last year, and Seagen recently announced it would build a new 270,000 square foot facility in Everett. Bill Gates recently cut the ribbon for a regional vaccine factory built by Inventprise, and Just-Evotec Biologics also has a new regional factory.

In addition to hiring Patel, Sana recruited Julie Lepin as Regulatory, Safety and Quality Manager. Lepin was previously vice president of regulatory affairs for oncology at Amgen.