Bioresearch firm to build plant, bring 200 jobs to Durham

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Chinese bioresearch company will create approximately 200 jobs and invest $157 million in Durham, Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday. The company's selection of the Research Triangle area will mark its first biomanufacturing site in North America.

CARsgen Therapeutics, which operates U.S. clinical development operations in Houston, is a biotechnology company pursuing cancer treatments.

"Global companies know that North Carolina is a world class leader in biotechnology," Cooper said. "Our state's skilled workers, educational institutions and business environment provide life science companies with the tools they need to succeed."

The company's project in North Carolina will establish a 37,000 square foot clinical/early-stage commercial manufacturing facility and then a 100,000 square foot cGMP commercial manufacturing facility in Durham that will eventually produce FDA approved cell therapies.

"We are very excited to receive the JDIG grant approval from the State of North Carolina," said Dr. Zonghai Li, CEO, CSO and Chairman of CARsgen Therapeutics. "CARsgen will continuously develop and embed innovations to advance the revolutionary CAR-T cell therapy for unmet clinical needs. The company has launched clinical studies of our leading CT053 and CT041 CAR-T cell therapies in the United States. The new facilities will expand our global cGMP manufacturing capacity to produce the innovative CAR-T cell products for the U.S. patients."

The company specializes in what's known as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies, a type of therapy that engages people's immune systems in a new way to yield medicines for various human cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, and solid tumors.

"It's exciting to see a company at the cutting-edge of science join our growing biotech industry cluster," said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. "From companies exploring gene therapies to the innovative work CARsgen is conducting with immune-oncology, there's no question that North Carolina will continue to play an important role in the future of this industry and the many lives of those impacted by the life sciences sector."

Although wages will vary by job position, the aggregate average salary of the new positions will reach $76,061, bringing a payroll impact of $15.2 million to the region every year. The current average wage in Durham County is $75,892.

"Durham attracts the most innovative companies in the world and today's decision continues that positive trend," said NC Rep. Zack Hawkins, whose district covers Durham. "We welcome these new jobs and the talent they will bring to our area and look forward to the life-saving medicines these employees will bring to people in need."

Durham officials reacted with optimism to the news.

"Today's CARsgen announcement reinforces the benefit of investments made to sustain our region as one of the world's top markets for life sciences and why we continue to build up local workforce strategies," said Board of County Commissioners Chair Brenda Howerton. "With the support of our talented labor and educational institutions, the company will be well-positioned as they seek to develop critical, new cancer treatments. We welcome CARsgen and their shared commitment to diversity and workforce development to Durham, which will benefit our local community and beyond."

Partnering with the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of N.C. on this project were the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Duke Energy, the City of Durham, Durham County and the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce.
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