German Gene Therapy Firm Plans Move to Mass. and Up to 25 New Hires
A German company that provides materials that biotech companies can use to improve gene therapies and vaccines is moving to Massachusetts.
Sirion Biotech GmbH of Munich expects to hire as many as 25 employees in research and development and business development over the next 12 months. The company is now weighing whether to move to Boston, Cambridge or the Fall River area.
Currently, just three regions in U.S. are known for gene therapy: Philadelphia, Massachusetts, and South San Francisco (basically, Genentech).
The state will likely provide some incentives, but in an interview today, Dieter Lingelbach, COO of Sirion, said that “what we found most interesting is the investment by the state in viral vector manufacturing… The state has understood that viral vectors are key.”
Sirion, founded in 2006 with about 20 employees worldwide, partners with companies in biotech manufacturing and process development. The company expects to generate about $1.7 million in revenue this year, and is seeking between $5.6 million and $11 million in funding. It specializes in the vaccines and gene therapy markets, which together are expected to be a $57 billion market by 2019.
Sirion sent its first employee to Massachusetts in May and set up a small office in Cambridge. Lingelbach said he “found it so much easier to get meetings with companies like Voyager Therapeutics.”
“Skype is not enough,” he said. “There is always that ocean in between.”
The Fall River process development facility is run by Mattapan-based MassBiologics, the publicly-owned biomanufacturer that is part of the UMass Medical School in Worcester. The center opened last year and it is hoped that it will attract biomanufacturing and services companies to the South Coast, where are costs are less expensive than Boston or Cambridge.
State Sen.Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, is in Philadelphia this week for the BIO conference and was excited that the Fall River facility played a role in Sirion’s decision.
“We have over $30 million in public investment in that center in Fall River for exactly this purpose,” Rodrigues said, “to serve as a magnet for private investment by companies like Sirion.”
Don Seiffert contributed to this story.
BIO2015: SIRION Biotech Sets Up Shop in Boston Bio-Hub and Plans for 25 New Hires
June 17, 2015
By Alex Keown, BioSpace Breaking News Staff
BOSTON – Germany-based Sirion Biotech GmbH plans to join the ever-expanding biotech party in the greater Boston area by establishing its own presence in the area, the company announced at BIO International today.
In addition to coming to America, the company plans on hiring 25 employees in research and development and business development over the next year, the company told BioSpace this morning. SIRION Biotech provides materials for biotech companies to use to improve gene therapies and vaccines.
Sirion told the Business Journal it was drawn to the Boston area specifically for “viral vectors,” a gene therapy science that enables the replacement of disease-causing genes with healthy genes. Gene therapy uses genes to treat or prevent disease. In the future, this technique may allow doctors to treat a disorder by inserting a gene into a patient’s cells instead of using drugs or surgery. There are several experimental techniques for gene therapy including replacing a mutated gene that causes disease with a healthy copy of the gene, deactivating an improperly functioning gene or introducing a new gene into the body to help fight a disease.
Sirion, which launched in 2007, said it first came to the Boston area in May in order to establish relationships with U.S. companies. The company currently has about 20 employees, and following its move to the U.S., will more than double its staffing.
“With its constant growth in the preclinical sector and a successful track record worldwide, the time has come to spearhead a move towards the US science community, enabling easy access to this advanced technology platform,” Sirion said on its website.
On its website Sirion said its specialists in Boston are available to talk with other companies about custom adenovirus service for individual adenovirus construction, custom lentivirus vector service an in vivo applications for adeno-associated viruses (AAV).
Last year Sirion announced a new line of cell specific AAV construction plasmids, controlling expression in brain and retinal sensory cells, liver, cardiac and skeletal muscle.
Sirion is looking for revenues of about $1.7 million this year and is seeking between $5.6 million and $11 million in funding, theBusiness Journal reported. The vaccines and gene therapy markets, which Sirion specializes in, are expected to be a combined $57 billion market by 2019.
The greater Boston area, including Cambridge, has been the booming biotech hub on the east coast, with more and more companies announcing a complete move to the area, or opening of satellite offices to collaborate with other pharmaceutical companies or research universities and institutes. One of the reasons for the greater Boston area becoming such a major hub in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries is the plethora of research universities in the area. Boston also has one of the highest educated workforces in the nation. Not only are smaller companies calling the Boston area home, but many larger and established pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer Inc. (PFE), GlaxoSmithKline GSK), Takeda Pharmaceuticals(TKPYY), Sanofi (SNY), Biogen Idec, Inc. BIIB) and Novartis AG(NVS) have presences in the city. The close proximity of so many pharmaceutical and university laboratories provides researchers and scientists easy access to clinical studies and building partnerships between companies.
“It is much easier to have collaborative relationships when you can visit each other’s labs and have face to face meetings easily,” Ann Taylor, Novartis Global Head of the Program Office, told BioSpace (last summer.
According to the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, which makes its home in Cambridge, Mass., the heart of the state’s biotech industry, the biotech and pharmaceutical presence in the state grew by 41 percent between 2004 and 2013. Across the state the industry employed 57,642 in 2013, the most recent year with complete data.
Recent growth in the Boston area includes IBM Corporation (IBM)’s new health unit, which will employ 2,000, as well asGlaxoSmithKline’s new innovation center in Boston.
There are a number of sites in the area being marketed to smaller biotech firms, including 340,000 square foot facility that formerly hosted Vertex Pharmaceuticals VRTX). The area, which includes three buildings, will be rebranded as Sidney Research Campus by BioMed Realty Trust, which owns the buildings. Vertex vacated the space in 2013 when it moved a few miles into Boston.