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17 February, 2021 - 15:34 By Tony Quested

Two global gamechangers establish growth platforms at Stevenage site

International companies Galecto Inc. and Rentschler Biopharma have set up operations at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) and Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult), respectively, to advance nextgen life science technologies.

Nasdaq-quoted Galecto, Inc. is a clinical stage biotech developing novel small molecule therapeutics directed at biological targets which are at the heart of fibrosis, inflammation and cancer.

It was founded in 2011 by leading galectin scientists and biotech executives from Sweden, the UK and Denmark. It is currently incorporated in the US and headquartered in Copenhagen.

To facilitate the international move, SBC has supported Galecto by providing fully fitted out accommodation and access to a range of business support and scientific facilities. This has significantly reduced start-up costs and accelerated the transition.

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, CEO at SBC, said: “We’re so pleased to welcome Galecto to Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and look forward to supporting its growth in the UK. 

“This inward investment of an important scientific research company adds to not only to the ecosystem at SBC but also the UK’s position as an international life science leader.”

German company Rentschler Biopharma has chosen SBC as a platform to build new cell and gene therapy capabilities in the UK. It is establishing its ATMP (Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products) development and manufacturing capabilities at the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult facility.  

Rentschler is a leading global contract development and manufacturing organisation for biopharmaceuticals. 

The company has pledged to make a significant investment at the site over the next five years to set up the desired manufacturing capabilities, benefiting from the expertise and unique collaborative model provided by the CGT Catapult. 

The company’s investment is expected to make a major contribution to meeting the demand from UK and international researchers for suitable manufacturing capability. 

This development will further strengthen the UK ecosystem through the addition of Rentschler Biopharma’s more than 40 years of experience and solid reputation in the development and manufacturing of biologics for both clinical and commercial supply. 

Dr. Frank Mathias, CEO of Rentschler Biopharma said: “We are excited to take this next big step in our evolution and address the growing industry demand for ATMP manufacturing capacity and viral vector supply. 

“With the largest industry cluster for cell and gene therapies outside the US, the UK is an ideal location for us to establish our Centre of Excellence for cell and gene therapy.”

Matthew Durdy, CEO of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult added: “The expertise and investment of Rentschler Biopharma will build new capacity to benefit the international ATMP supply chain and meet growing academic and commercial demand across the industry. 

“As more companies from around the globe come to the UK, it demonstrates and enhances the attractiveness of its cell and gene therapy  ecosystem as a place to develop new technologies and capabilities.”

Currently, 27 per cent of European ATMP companies are operating in the UK and there are more than 90 advanced therapy developers. The last year has also seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of ATMP clinical trials being run in the UK, accounting for 12 per cent of global ATMP clinical trials, and these numbers are predicted to increase further.

The CGT Catapult manufacturing centre has been backed by over £75 million of funding, including investment from the UK Government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Innovate UK and from the European Regional Development Fund. Since it was announced, there has been over £1.1 billion of investment in the ATMP industry in its vicinity.

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