Rare Daily Staff

The University of Pennsylvania Gene Therapy Program signed a lease to use The Discovery Labs’ suburban campus for a portion of its expanding research operations focused on the development of genetic medicines for rare and orphan diseases, as well as acquired and pandemic infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.

The lease positions Penn’s Gene Therapy Program as an anchor tenant for The Discovery Labs’ new seven-million-square-foot life sciences cluster in Philadelphia’s Cellicon Valley.

The facility expands the Gene Therapy Program’s available space for vector operations, including two dedicated floors for the expanded Penn Vector Core, a full-service viral vector core facility that produces viral-based vectors for gene transfer for researchers both within and outside of Penn. The Penn Vector Core has deep expertise in state-of-the-art vector technology for basic research applications that advance understanding of gene function and the development of therapeutic vectors.

Its new space will support discovery research all the way through submission of Investigational New Drug applications for clinical trials. Additional capabilities will include more capacity for nonclinical proof-of-concept research; large-scale vector production activities; expanded high-throughput research manufacturing for pre-clinical projects; platform development and process optimization; and assay development and qualification, quality control testing, and technical transfer.

“The past few years have been a pivotal time in the development of gene therapies, and our new space at Discovery Labs will propel us even further in charting the future of the field,” said James Wilson, director of Penn’s Gene Therapy Program. “With additional state-of-the-art equipment and increased operational capabilities, we are well-positioned to enhance the design and execution of our innovative, transformative therapies.”

Terms of the deal include a multi-year lease and more than 150,000 square feet of lab space encompassing two buildings on Discovery Labs’ one-million-square-foot campus on Swedeland Road in King of Prussia. Penn Medicine joins GSK, WuXi Biologics, and The Center for Breakthrough Medicines on the biotech innovation campus.

The Gene Therapy Program will be adjacent to the Discovery Labs’ 700,000-square-foot Innovation Renaissance campus anchored by other leading healthcare companies and organizations such as Thomas Jefferson University Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Amerisource Bergen/World Courier, and Tosoh Biosciences and is just up the road from the recently acquired 660,000 square foot Philadelphia Inquirer printing plant that will be converted into life science research and manufacturing facilities.

Photo: Discovery Labs

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