The FINANCIAL — The Massachusetts Center for Advanced Biological Innovation and Manufacturing (CABIM) announced that it has secured $76 million in financing and signed a lease for a 40,000 square-foot site in Watertown at The Arsenal on the Charles owned and operated by Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. Formed in late 2019, CABIM aims to help new therapeutics, and technologies reach patients faster and strengthen Greater Boston’s position as the world’s life science capital.
The $76 million fundraising round was led by Harvard University and the other founding members constituting CABIM’s Board of Directors, which include Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, Cytiva (formerly part of GE Healthcare Life Sciences), and Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. Other investors of note include CABIM collaborators Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, and MilliporeSigma.
“At a time when we face a devastating global pandemic, collaboration between the greatest innovators in the life science community has never felt more important or had more to contribute to knowledge and human health,” said Alan M. Garber, Provost of Harvard University. “The Center will build upon and support that spirit of partnership, tapping into the region’s life science ecosystem and intellectual capital to discover new approaches to prevent and treat illness.”
According to Harvard University, with its new state-of-the-art space, CABIM will help alleviate a backlog in biomanufacturing that frequently stretches as long as 18 months and can significantly delay critical research and development in cell and gene therapy, gene editing, immunotherapy, and biotechnology. These types of therapies offer the potential to treat or even cure devastating rare diseases and more common diseases, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, among others.
“In order to serve patients better and faster, you need global collaboration between academic, biotechnology and industry partners. Ideas must be fostered and tested, materials must be available for testing, and manufacturing options must be at hand,” said Emmanuel Ligner, President and CEO of Cytiva. “No one can achieve this alone. CABIM will create an ecosystem of the brightest minds across industries and immediate manufacturing capabilities to accelerate therapies for patients.”
CABIM will foster unique partnerships between industry, academia, and leading area hospitals. When its Watertown headquarters is complete, it will house a pharma-grade manufacturing facility that will adhere to “good manufacturing practices” (GMP), with a plan for eight cleanrooms, and tout a modular configuration that will enable the easy adoption of emerging technologies. It will also be distinct from some other contract manufacturers in that it will produce both cell and viral vector products within its physical space. Globally, demand for these biological products is so high that resulting manufacturing bottlenecks can ultimately limit the number of patients who are able to access medical breakthroughs produced using cell and viral vectors.
“Cell and viral vector products have become valuable tools for basic and translational research across a range of disciplines,” said Arlene Sharpe, MD, PhD, George Fabyan Professor of Comparative Pathology at Harvard Medical School. “CABIM’s production of cell and viral vectors will enable fundamental discovery research and investigation of new therapeutic strategies, facilitating the improvement of patient treatment.”
In addition to its unique technology and manufacturing capabilities, the Center will offer quality control, lab, office, and convening space designed to facilitate collaboration between scientists from the region’s universities, hospitals, and industries. By housing experts in manufacturing, research, development, and commercialization all under one roof, the Center will aim to improve the innovation supply chain with the goal of accelerating the introduction of new solutions to patients. It will also focus on developing a pipeline of talent in the field of biopharmaceutical manufacturing to expand Greater Boston’s base of specialized workers, offering training and curricula to emerging professionals.
CABIM will use the initial funding to build out its new space, support an experienced professional staff of about 40 full-time employees, and maintain the Center’s daily operations. This initial funding will allow CABIM to begin opening its facility in early 2022.
In the months ahead, CABIM will announce an official name for the Center and unveil its leadership team, which will work closely with CABIM partners and member organizations to catalyze and accelerate life-changing research.