A modern complex designed to house biological and chemical manufacturing is expected to significantly add to a growing bioscience industry in Arizona.
Officials with the City of Hope, which is based in Duarte, California, and its affiliate, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, have announced their intention to build a facility in metro Phoenix that will be dedicated to speeding up the pace of stem cell research and cancer treatment.
“Cancer patients need effective treatments now,” Robert Stone, the chief executive officer and president of City of Hope, remarked upon the announcement of the new facility.
“City of Hope and TGen are working to quickly move effective therapies from the laboratory to patients’ bedside,” Stone continued in a statement, adding that what are called City of Hope’s Current Good Manufacturing Practice facilities in California, along with the new Phoenix location, “will help us expand our capabilities to serve people in Arizona and across the nation.”
Where exactly the new structure will go up remains to be revealed.
“At this point the specific details of the facility have not been confirmed,” says Zen Vuong, a senior media relations specialist with the City of Hope.
“We have merely issued a letter of intent to build,” Vuong continues, adding, “We still have to work out the details.”
Despite that lack of details, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, in a statement, has officially welcomed the City of Hope/TGen project, saying that the project “further enhances Arizona’s reputation as a hub for bioscience and health care innovation.”
Ducey added that City of Hope and TGen’s work has proven to be “critical in the fight against cancer, and Arizona is proud to play a role in it.”
Once the Phoenix facility becomes reality, City of Hope and TGen will work in a partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority to help build a professional workforce through the Navigator program.
That program, notes Sandra Watson, the president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Commerce Authority, “provides companies expanding assistance” in accessing local workforce talent.
By so doing, adds Watson, the program “helps offset recruitment costs these companies may otherwise incur when they are hiring in a new market, and also helps them understand the federal workforce assistance programs.”
The Arizona bioscience and healthcare hub referred to by Ducey includes the nonprofit Science Foundation Arizona, based in Scottsdale, and created more than 10 years ago to promote STEM education; the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University in Tempe; Pinnacle Transplant Technologies, a regenerative medical company, in Phoenix; and Visiongate, an oncology pharmaceutical and diagnostics company, also in Phoenix.
TGen itself was created with $90 million in public backing in Arizona more than 15 years ago as a nonprofit tasked with translating genomic discoveries into human health advances.
The company has primarily focused on helping patients with diabetes, cancer, infectious diseases, and neurological disorders though the latest cutting edge research.
Two years ago, TGen announced an alliance with California’s City of Hope, combining the strengths of both entities. TGen applies genomic analysis and bioinformatics to cancer drug development, while City of Hope is a long-standing pioneer in such areas as bone marrow transplantation and hematologic malignancies.
Launched in 1913, City of Hope is one of less than fifty comprehensive cancer centers in the country. As of late last year, City of Hope, a pioneer in bone marrow and stem cell transplants, had performed more than 13,000 such transplants.
The combined effort of TGen and City of Hope in building the new cell therapy manufacturing facility is expected to continue a relationship underlining each other’s assets.
In announcing the new building, Jeffrey Trent, the research director and president of TGen, said, “City of Hope’s clinical and manufacturing expertise in immunotherapy is at the forefront of this field, and combined with TGen’s genomic testing, offers patients new hope for their future.”
The location for the new combined TGen and the City of Hope facility, and how large it will be, could be announced sometime early next year.
In 2004, TGen opened up its 173,000 square foot home in Phoenix, a high-tech building that cost $46 million to build.
By Garry Boulard
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