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Biogen plots $200 million expansion in Research Triangle Park that will add dozens of jobs
News & Observer - 3/4/2021
Mar. 4—RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Biogen is planning a $200 million expansion into Research Triangle Park, the company announced Thursday.
The investment would go toward the creation of a facility for the production and manufacturing of the company's gene therapies, a growing segment in the biotechnology industry. The facility, when completed, will lead to the creation of 90 new jobs.
Biogen, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., is one of the largest biotech companies in the world.
It is also one of the Triangle's largest employers, with around 1,900 employees here. The company develops drugs for people who have serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, and focuses heavily on people with multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy and Alzheimer's disease.
Biogen did not respond to The News & Observer's request for comment about the expansion.
But in a statement, Nicole Murphy, the company's senior vice president of global manufacturing, said it's committed to growing in the Triangle region.
"This additional investment underscores our commitment to RTP and our mission to deliver a reliable supply of high-quality medicines to the patients we serve," Murphy said in the statement. "We are poised with a diverse workforce that is passionate about making a difference in the lives of patients and we look forward to welcoming new colleagues from the community to join us in that mission."
RTP has become a hot bed for gene therapy companies in recent years, with the state focusing a lot of its recruitment efforts toward companies in the industry.
Gene therapy is one of the most promising forms of treatment for diseases like cancer and some inherited disorders. It's still relatively new, though, with fewer than two dozen gene therapies approved so far by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Companies like AveXis, Bluebird Bio and Pfizer all have gene-therapy-manufacturing operations in the Triangle now.
And several homegrown gene therapy companies are thriving as well. Most notably, Durham-based AskBio, founded by a UNC professor, was sold to Bayer in a deal worth up to $4 billion, and another firm, Atsena Therapeutics, raised $55 million from investors.
Biogen has one late-stage gene therapy in its pipeline, Fierce Pharma reported. That therapy, called timrepigene emparvovec, treats choroideremia, a disease that causes vision loss.
COVID-19 cases at Biogen
The expansion announcement comes roughly a year after Biogen was dealing with the spread of COVID-19 at its plant in RTP.
It was still in the early days of the pandemic, before much was known about its spread. Several Biogen employees were infected with the coronavirus at a conference in Boston.
Many of the first cases in the state were tied directly back to the conference. A study in the journal Science identified the conference as one of the earliest superspreader events in the U.S. and linked it to as many as 300,000 cases worldwide.
Shortly after the conference, Biogen pledged $10 million toward coronavirus relief efforts, including the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. Learn more.
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