Durham has landed another gene-therapy jobs expansion after the state offered incentives to the biotechnology company Beam Therapeutics.
Beam, based in Massachusetts, will add 201 jobs in Durham by 2026, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce.
The state’s Economic Investment Committee voted Tuesday to give the company a Job Development Investment Grant worth $3.2 million, or about $16,108 per job. The company would get the money over 12 years, if it meets hiring and investment goals.
Durham County is also giving the company an incentive worth $500,000 for the expansion.
The Commerce Department said the average salary for the new jobs — which will focus on clinical and commercial manufacturing — will be $102,654. The median household income in Durham County was $59,329 in 2018, according to the Census Bureau.
Additionally, Beam is expected to invest $83 million in a 100,000-square-foot facility in Durham in the next five years.
REWRITING DNA TO FIGHT DISEASE
Beam uses “base-editing” technology to create potential therapies for diseases. The company licenses CRISPR technology from the Broad Institute of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to rewrite strands of DNA to either remove mutations that cause disease or modify genes to make them protective against certain diseases.
The company hopes to develop therapies for oncology, liver diseases, and ocular and central nervous system diseases.
The company’s technology is still in experimental phases. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year, the company said its novel technology has not yet been clinically validated for human use.
“The approaches we are taking to discover and develop novel therapeutics are unproven and may never lead to marketable products,” the company wrote.
Beam expects to remain in the research and development phase for the foreseeable future, as it attempts to push its technology toward clinical development.
STATE INCENTIVES LURING GENE-THERAPY COMPANIES TO NC
North Carolina has attracted several gene-therapy companies to the state via its incentives program in recent years, including AveXis in Durham and Cellectis in Raleigh. The Commerce Department said that North Carolina was competing with Massachusetts, Maryland and Philadelphia for Beam’s expansion.
“Research Triangle Park is a thriving biopharmaceutical hub, providing significant access to the broad range of talent we will need to make this vision a reality,” Beam CEO John Evans said in a statement.
Beam went public earlier this year through an initial public offering, raising more than $200 million when it listed its shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
The company has yet to make any meaningful revenue, and it lost $31.4 million last year, mainly in research and development costs, according to an SEC filing.
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