The Discovery Labs Signs Foundational Lease with the University of Pennsylvania Gene Therapy Program as Anchor Tenant
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., (May 25, 2021) – The Discovery Labs has signed a foundational lease with the University of Pennsylvania Gene Therapy Program (GTP), which will use Discovery Labs’ suburban campus for a portion of its expanding research operations focused on the development of genetic medicines for rare and orphan diseases, as well as acquired and pandemic infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.
The lease with Penn’s Gene Therapy Program—led by James M. Wilson, MD, PhD, Director, Gene Therapy Program; Rose H. Weiss Professor and Director, Orphan Disease Center; and Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, Department of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania—establishes an anchor tenancy for The Discovery Labs’ new seven-million-square-foot life sciences cluster in Philadelphia’s Cellicon Valley.
“Dr. Wilson and his incredible team at Penn have helped establish Philadelphia as a leader in gene therapies, and we are deeply honored to have the opportunity to work with him and his incredible team of scientists through the expansion of their world-class research and development labs,” said Brian O’Neill, Founder and Chairman, Discovery Labs. “To welcome Penn’s Gene Therapy Program as the anchor tenant for our planned life sciences cluster here in King of Prussia is strong validation for the incredible life science ecosystem that is emerging in Greater Philadelphia.”
The facility expands the Gene Therapy Program’s available space for vector operations, including two dedicated floors for the expanded Penn Vector Core, a full-service viral vector core facility that produces viral-based vectors for gene transfer for researchers both within and outside of Penn. The Penn Vector Core has deep expertise in state-of-the-art vector technology for basic research applications that advance understanding of gene function and the development of therapeutic vectors.
Its new space will support discovery research all the way through submission of Investigational New Drug (IND) applications for clinical trials. Additional capabilities will include more capacity for non-clinical proof-of-concept research, large-scale vector production activities; expanded high-throughput research manufacturing for pre-clinical projects; platform development and process optimization; and assay development and qualification, quality control testing, and technical transfer.
“The past few years have been a pivotal time in the development of gene therapies, and our new space at Discovery Labs will propel us even further in charting the future of the field,” Wilson said. “With additional state-of-the-art equipment and increased operational capabilities, we are well-positioned to enhance the design and execution of our innovative, transformative therapies.”
Terms of the deal include a multi-year lease and over 150,000 square feet of lab space encompassing two buildings on Discovery Labs’ one-million-square-foot campus on Swedeland Road in King of Prussia. Penn Medicine joins GSK, WuXi Biologics, and The Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CBM) on the biotech innovation campus. The Gene Therapy Program will be adjacent to the Discovery Labs’ 700,000-square-foot Innovation Renaissance campus anchored by other leading healthcare companies and organizations such as Thomas Jefferson University Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Amerisource Bergen/World Courier, and Tosoh Biosciences and is just up the road from the recently acquired 660,000 square foot Philadelphia Inquirer printing plant that will be converted into life science research and manufacturing facilities.
MLP was represented by Joe Corcoran, Senior VP, and Julian O Neill, Director of Marketing, in the transaction. The University of Pennsylvania was represented by Colliers’ Executive Vice President Joe Fetterman. In its recent market report, Converging for Cures, Colliers identified The Discovery Labs as being located within one of eight significant Life Science neighborhoods in the Philadelphia cluster.
The Discovery Labs
The Discovery Labs is the first complete global platform for discovery, development, and delivery of life-changing science and technology. The Discovery Labs ecosystem supports several signature businesses including the Center for Breakthrough Medicines, the largest single-point cell and gene therapy contract development and manufacturing organization in the world, and Discovery Labs Real Estate which acquires and builds life science portfolios in global innovation hubs.
Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $8.9 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report’s survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $496 million awarded in the 2020 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report—Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.
Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 44,000 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2020, Penn Medicine provided more than $563 million to benefit our community.
John Kouten, DeFazio Communications
(o) 484-534-3306 (c) 908-227-4714
SVP, Corporate Development and Leasing
The Discovery Labs
Penn Medicine Contact:
KOP Insiders: Audrey Greenberg, Co-Founder, Discovery Labs
“My background is primarily in capital markets and transactions. I grew up professionally in public accounting and investment banking and then spent 10 years in private equity. As I matured professionally, I became increasingly motivated by triple-bottom line investing centered around not only generating a financial return but also having a social and environmental impact. When Brian O’Neill, who I knew through the private equity world, approached me about starting The Discovery Labs, I was extremely motivated by his vision of creating an ecosystem easing the path to commercialization for life changing and lifesaving medicines. The opportunity to positively impact patient lives drives me and our culture.
Our acquisition of the GlaxoSmithKline worldwide R&D headquarters facility in KOP fulfilled our vision to create a multi-user facility for a synergistic mix of life science companies. This unique hub leverages the pharma-grade infrastructure already in-place — saving precious capital for innovation rather than buildout.”
Overcoming AAV Manufacturing Challenges
Since inception, the Center for Breakthrough Medicines has actively aligned with partners across the industry to develop more knowledge and understanding of the challenges, existing solutions, and future potential solutions for advancing novel therapies. The goal is to build a toolbox of technologies and services around the critical quality attributes that impact the efficacy, safety, and stability of next-generation medicines that will allow rapid development and commercialization of advanced technologies such as AAV vectors for gene therapy.