$98 million cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility will support research and development of life-saving technologies including cancer-fighting cell therapies
Editor's note: This press release was issued on Oct. 13, 2023, by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul and is reproduced here with permission.
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that New York's first cell and gene therapy hub will be housed at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, Erie County. The $98 million center will help to support the research and development of life-saving therapies at Roswell, significantly grow its well-established research capabilities, and establish Roswell as one of the premier cell therapy discovery and production institutions in the nation and catalyze the growth of the cell and gene therapy sector in western NY. The expansion also realizes Governor Hochul’s 2023 State of the State commitment to establish an Upstate cell and gene therapy hub and bolster the state’s leadership in the fast-growing life science sector.
“The future of medicine is in cell and gene therapy and this new hub at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center will put Western New York – and all of New York State – at the cutting edge of life-saving treatments and therapies,” Governor Hochul said. “In my State of the State address, I committed to investing in fast-growing sectors like the life sciences, and thanks to a $30 million state investment, Roswell’s new facility will help to solidify our state’s future in the field, create 21st century jobs, and provide hope to generations of New Yorkers who rely on these critical treatments.”
Empire State Development will invest $30 million to assist in expanding the current cell and gene therapy research capacity at Roswell’s Therapeutic Cell Production Facility from six to 20 specialized clean rooms, making it the largest academic cell and gene therapy research and manufacturing facility in the United States. The new facility will streamline every step of the cell therapy development process, shortening the path from research to production. It will encourage the growth of startup companies commercializing these therapies, grow private investment, strengthen the state’s innovation-focused talent pool, and attract partnerships with biopharma companies.
Roswell will focus on developing cell and gene therapies to attack solid tumors. Current cancer-fighting cell therapies target what are known as liquid tumors, such as leukemia and lymphoma. While cell therapy is a still-emerging field of cancer therapy, early successes have shown that it can lead to durable responses for 80 percent or more of patients with certain types of blood-based malignancies — cancers that were previously considered untreatable. The development of cell therapies targeting solid tumors like those of the breast, colon and lung – which are much more common – is an important goal for cancer researchers.
Roswell Park President, CEO and M&T Bank Presidential Chair in Leadership Candace S. Johnson, PhD said, “Through their leadership in recognizing and investing in innovations with the power to save the most lives, Governor Hochul and Empire State Development are securing a healthier, more hopeful future for New Yorkers. The most respected and accomplished experts in cell therapy put their passion to work at Roswell Park because they can innovate at Roswell Park in ways they simply cannot anywhere else, and that means unparalleled scope and resources benefitting Roswell Park patients.”
Chair of the Roswell Park Board of Directors Leecia Eve, Esq. said, “The partnership and support for Roswell Park from Governor Hochul and Empire State Development continues to be an exemplary model for maximizing the benefits of New York State ingenuity. Roswell Park has amassed incredible expertise and capabilities in this emerging field of cellular therapy, and thanks to ESD’s support we are able to speed toward our goal of creating one of the largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind anywhere in the world.”
Cell and gene therapy is one of the fastest growing fields in life science and New York is uniquely positioned to help develop this new, high-growth sub-sector of the life sciences industry. Cell and gene therapy attacks diseases like cancer by manufacturing reprogrammed patient cells to either repair those that cause disease or kill tumors. The State currently ranks in the top three for NIH grants, number of patents, and number of cell and gene therapy clinical trials, and it stands to reap enormous benefits by focusing on cell and gene therapy development.
Governor Hochul announced the creation of two cell and gene therapy hubs – one upstate and one downstate – in her 2023 State of the State address as part of her continued effort to support growth and innovation in New York State. Each center will co-locate vital cell and gene therapy infrastructure, technology, and services to ensure that New York has both the talent and infrastructure required to lead in this field. ESD continues to engage with partners on the establishment of a downstate hub.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Concentrating these capabilities in two locations and connecting them across the state will make New York a powerhouse in cell and gene therapy development. Governor Hochul’s commitment to grow cell and gene therapy offers tremendous potential to increase intellectual property, create and attract companies to commercialize these products, attract private investment, and form partnerships with biopharma companies.”
Representative Brian Higgins said, “Roswell Park has a long history and a bright future as a worldwide leader in the development of innovative cancer treatments and discoveries. This investment by Governor Hochul is more than a commitment to science. It is a commitment to all of the families in New York and beyond seeking hope and victory in the fight against cancer.”
State Senator Timothy M. Kennedy said, "Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center continues to serve as a beacon of hope for so many people, not only through its thoughtful, patient-centered care, but through the innovative research it pioneers every day. This state investment will further fuel that mission and analyze dynamic treatment opportunities that will save lives and drive our medical field forward."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said, “Roswell Park's new cell and gene therapy academic manufacturing facility will be a game changer for everyone, as the largest in the country, studies have shown considerable promise against certain cancer types. It will also provide entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for interested parties. Thank you Governor Hochul and Empire State Development for making this possible.”
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is known internationally as a leader in cancer care and treatment, and the new cell and gene therapy hub will further that reputation. I thank Governor Hochul for making this critical and potentially lifesaving investment.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “Roswell Park continues to be a beacon of hope for families affected by cancer throughout the Western New York region and beyond. This new facility will create revolutionary treatments hopefully resulting in better outcomes for those battling cancer. I applaud Governor Hochul for her continued support of Roswell Park and putting the health of New Yorkers at the top of her agenda.”
The expansion of Roswell’s Therapeutic Cell Production Facility is part of New York State's $620 million Life Science Initiative, designed to spur the growth of a world-class life science research cluster in New York, as well as expand the state's ability to commercialize this research and grow the economy. This multi-faceted initiative includes $320 million for strategic programs that attract new life science technologies to the state, promote critical public and private sector investment in emerging life science fields and create and expand life science-related businesses and employment throughout New York. Read New York State’s Life Science Initiative Strategic Plan here.