Gene therapy firm picks Durham County for new plant, jobs paying $92.5K

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 Jaguar Gene Therapy, a developer of treatments targeting what it calls “severe” genetic diseases, will build a new manufacturing facility and create some 200 jobs paying a minimum of $92,500 after securing a tax incentives package from the state of North Carolina, Durham County and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

The agreement was reached Tuesday with the endorsement of the state’s Economic Development Committee, which is part of the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Jaguar, a two-year-old company, raised $139 million from investors earlier this year. Among its backers is drug giant Eli Lilly, will invest $125 million in the new plant.

The facility will be the fourth for the company. It also is required to retain 25 current employees already based in North Carolina. The firm has an existing lab in Cary.

“Our new GMP [Good Manufacturing Practice]facility represents a major step forward for Jaguar in our mission to accelerate gene therapy breakthroughs in patient populations with large unmet need,” said Andrew Knudten, the company’s chief operating officer. “North Carolina is known for its innovation in biotechnology and its highly talented workforce, both of which are crucial as we strive to raise the bar for manufacturing safe and effective gene therapies.”

The plant will cover some 174,000 square feet. The company said the facility will “support future clinical and commercial production of the company’s initial programs, including: galactosemia; a specific genetic cause of autism; and Type 1 diabetes.”

Several life science firms have selected North Carolina for new production facilities.

“North Carolina’s diverse life sciences presence continues to attract innovative biopharmaceutical companies,” said Governor Roy Cooper in a statement. “Jaguar’s expansion into biomanufacturing in Research Triangle Park, together with its process sciences laboratory in Cary, reinforces North Carolina’s reputation as a premier location for these companies.”

Incentives include rebates on North Carolina employee income taxes totaling more than $2.3 million in job targets are met as well as community college training valued at $500,000, a $100,000 grant from the N.C. Biotech Center and $525,000 from Durham County.


  • JAG101 is a gene therapy treatment in development for galactosemia, a metabolic condition that in its most severe form affects an estimated 4,500 patients in the United States. An additional estimated 17,000 individuals in the United States have a less severe form of the disease yet still suffer from long-term effects. Galactosemia is diagnosed within months of birth and is caused by an inborn error of carbohydrate metabolism, which impairs the body’s ability to process and produce energy from galactose, one of the sugars in breast milk and formula. Consequences of the disease can include cataracts, liver failure, kidney dysfunction and brain damage (speech abnormalities). Because of its severity, galactosemia has already been added as part of newborn screening in the United States and in other global markets. The current standard of care is a strict diet that has modest effects in some patients but is often not sufficient to prevent long-term complications.
  • JAG201 is a gene therapy treatment in development for a specific genetic cause of autism spectrum disorder. Hallmarks of autism disorders include seizures, emotional/social interaction issues, and restricted and repetitive behaviors that can persist and interfere with everyday life. There are currently no treatment options available for the estimated 30,000 patients in the United States with the genetically caused autism spectrum disorder that Jaguar is targeting.
  • JAG301 is a gene therapy treatment in development for Type 1 diabetes, a metabolic autoimmune disease that currently requires lifelong insulin injection dependency. Serious complications from Type 1 diabetes can include frequent hospitalizations, blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney damage and nerve damage. Jaguar is currently evaluating proof-of-concept data to best determine the appropriate clinically relevant patients within the newly diagnosed population.
  • Additionally, Axovia Therapeutics, a majority-owned subsidiary of Jaguar Gene Therapy that is focused on creating transformative therapies for ciliopathies, is advancing AXV101, a gene therapy treatment for BBS1, a subset of Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS). A life-threatening neurometabolic condition, BBS causes progressive vision loss, severe obesity, learning disorders and kidney disease.

Original Source: WRAL TechWire