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Cell Therapy Spotlight: Pharm Country esp. Philadelphia: Is Pharm Country Becoming Cell Therapy Country?

When it comes to Pharm Country (NY, NJ, PA, CT, and RI), Pennsylvania is a hotbed for cell therapy (FIG. 1 📸). We found 39 companies in these states, with 9 in Philadelphia. Philadelphia can be considered one of the hubs of cell therapy. Some of the early and most promising current cell therapy clinical work stems from the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

FIG. 1. Pharm Country Biopharma Companies. Biopharmaceutical companies in various states within the Pharm Country region, with New York leading at 132 companies, while the second graph shows the number of cell therapy companies in the same region, with Pennsylvania having the highest at 16.

Not only have numerous Philadelphia area cell therapy companies gone public over the past 5-10 years, some have been acquired by large biopharma companies for healthy multiples: Kite ($11.9B; Gilead; 2017), Tmunity (Kite; 2023) and gene Tx company Spark ($4.8B; Roche; 2019). One of those acquired cell therapy companies, Tmunity, was co-founded by cell therapy pioneer, Carl June, of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. June also discovered one of the first CAR-T products, Kymriah, which was licensed to Novartis. More recently, Dr. June co-founded Capstan, a company focusing on using T cell therapy to treat heart disease, and most recently BlueWhale Bio, which focuses on in vivo cell therapy and was founded in September 2023 with $18M financing from Danaher Ventures. 

Not too surprisingly, given its strong connections to cell therapy, Philadelphia is becoming a hub for cell therapy manufacturing. It has a number of outstanding educational institutions, and a growing amount of biotech real estate, and boasts a lower cost than other biopharma hubs. (FIG. 2 📸).   As Iovance apparently reaches the finish line for its first approval of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, it has set up a major cell therapy cell manufacturing processing hub in Philadelphia (See our snapshot below 👇). Given the strong focus on cell therapy in Philadelphia, it will be exciting to see its continued growth as a cell therapy powerhouse city. 

FIG. 2. Top Life Sciences Market Rental Rates. Data comparing the median per square foot (PSF) rental rates of top life sciences markets from Newmark's 2022 Mid-Year Life Science Overview & Market Clusters Report (February 2022).

As we look at cell therapy in Pharm Country, let’s not forget about New York.  The city of New York has been investing $1 billion in biotechnology as part of LifeSci NYC ^1.  We find 15 cell therapy companies in NY in our growing biopharma company database. These include companies in New York City, like Celyad Oncology and IN8bio, and even companies in upstate New York, such as Tactiva (Buffalo) with their T cell receptor-expressing stem cell technology. Last year, New York City announced it was launching a new $20M center for biotech.^2 Given all the biotech/pharma talent in New York and the surrounding states that make up "Pharm Country", it will be interesting to see if this entire region follows Philadelphia’s lead and evolves into "Pharm & Cell Therapy Country".

Are you a Biopharma vendor, CRO, and/or a biopharma professional? Get a list of 100's of biopharma companies with cell therapy products. Perfect for sales and business development activities. Access our free report here: 

CELL THERAPY FACILITY SNAPSHOT: Iovance’s Philadelphia Cell Therapy Manufacturing Hub

Iovance (IOVA) cell therapy center (iCTC)

• Centralized manufacturing site

• Philadelphia Navy Yard

→ Growing biotech hub

→ 10 mins. from international airport

• Expected to facilitate logistics and delivery for U.S. and Europe

• Core suites optimized for high-volume manufacturing

→ IOVA Gen 2 and Gen 3 processes

• Flexible suites support a growing pipeline

• Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified

• Integrated quality control, supply chain, and IT systems

• Tax savings under Pennsylvania’s Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone (KOIZ)


Article History

Original published: 02/06/24 RF and EV

This article is not investment or legal advice.

1 Comment

Emanuel Vacchiano
Emanuel Vacchiano
Feb 06

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