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17 March, 2021 - 09:28 By Tony Quested

Northwest Biotherapeutics creating 300 Cambridge UK jobs

Northwest Biotherapeutics, a Maryland-based company developing personalised cancer vaccines, has finished initial buildout of a plant in Sawston, Cambridge which it intends to be a centre of excellence for manufacturing advanced therapies.

This initiative is expected to provide a significant boost to jobs in the region: 30 people have been hired for the initial production phase, with the potential for more than 300 employees when the site is operating at full capacity. 

The plant has been built with the support of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Economic Development Authority, which provided a £1.35 million loan for the Phase 1a buildout and equipment.

The US company says that the commercialisation of regenerative and advanced therapies is routinely held back by the bottleneck of the production process.

This venture is an attempt to help evolve what’s currently a largely artisanal process into an industrial one which can keep pace with the clinical innovation in the space.

The primary goal is to prepare for production of Northwest Biotherapeutics’ lead candidate, DCVax-L, the first medicine to be awarded the UK’s ‘Promising Innovative Medicine’ (PIM) designation under the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) which aims to increase patient access to medicines where there is an unmet medical need.

The lead program is a 331-patient Phase III trial of DCVax®-L for newly diagnosed Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). This trial is now completed and locked down with announcement of top line data expected in the coming months. GBM is the most aggressive and lethal form of brain cancer and is an orphan disease.

Since this programme will occupy only a small proportion of the production capacity, the additional capacity can be used to support the production of other regenerative therapy products.

In Phase 1 production, manufacturing suites will have the capacity of producing vaccines to treat 450-500 patients per year.

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