Charles River Laboratories to start cell and gene therapy manufacturing at UK site in September – Endpoints News


While Massachusetts-based Charles River Laboratories has been on an acquisition spree, they are not against planting their flag. The latest move by the company sees them crossing the pond to establish a manufacturing site in the UK.

The company on Tuesday opened its cell and gene therapy manufacturing center at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. The expansion follows Charles River’s acquisition of Cognate BioServices and Cobra Biologics in 2021 for $875 million. Cognate is a plasmid DNA, viral vector and cell therapy CDMO.

According to the company, in an email to Endpoints News, construction on Alderley Park started in Q1 2021, with manufacturing available starting in September. The new center will add over 16,000 square feet with three independent production suites for 15L HQ plasmids. The new site will include three new manufacturing streams, which will enable Charles River to increase its HQ plasmid DNA capacity to address global supply shortages and support therapeutic developers through rapid access to the material. The company did not disclose any financial details surrounding the project.

Birgit Girshick

“In order to address the exponential growth of the cell and gene therapy market, we will continue to broaden our reach and capabilities to meet the growing demand. Our Alderley Park expansion is one of the multiple ongoing initiatives to support our global clients from discovery to delivery,” said Charles River COO Birgit Girshick.

Charles River’s acquisition of Cognate saw the company absorb Cognate’s tech, which is also used in cellular immunotherapy and immuno-oncology, regenerative medicine and advanced cell therapy therapies. The company’s 500+ employees also joined some 17,000+ Charles River workers.

This is not the only way the company has built out its CDMO arm. In 2021, Charles River also doled out $293 million for gene therapy CDMO Vigene Biosciences with the possibility for an additional $57.5 million in performance-based payments, just as Vigene announced it would also add 52,000 feet of manufacturing space.

This also comes on the heels of Moderna ensuring a greater presence in the UK for a vaccine research center and a manufacturing site for a series of vaccines somewhere in the “Golden Triangle” between London, Cambridge and Oxford.

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