Poway-based Cellipont Bioservices, a cell therapy contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), announced earlier this month (Aug. 17) plans for a 76,000-square-foot commercial-ready manufacturing facility for cell therapies and gene-modified cell therapies.
Located in The Woodlands, Texas, the facility will include state-of-the-art manufacturing, process development, assay development and testing capabilities redundant with Cellipont’s 26,000-square-foot San Diego location.
Company officials said the new facility will be commissioned in phases, with the first phase scheduled to begin operation in the first half of 2023.
“Cellipont is excited to move forward with this next stage of our company’s development as a best-in-class cell therapy CDMO,” said Deborah Wild, CEO at Cellipont Bioservices.
“As our client programs advance through the clinic and toward commercialization, we are working diligently to offer them state-of-the-art facilities and capabilities,” Wild added. “This site near Houston is an ideal location to serve clients and patients across all of North America, with two major airports and a strong local workforce.”
Cellipont has put together an impressive group of partners to execute the new project.
“Over the first half of this year, Cellipont has assembled a leadership team widely recognized in the industry with extensive commercial experience,” Wild said. “We are pleased to partner with established industry leaders on this expansion project, including building owner Vitrian, cell therapy design/build/qualification specialist cGMPnow and general contractor, LEAD Construction.”
“With this new expansion, we essentially have a blank canvas to create the ideal cell therapy facility in a phased approach as our clients grow their programs. We look forward to partnering with cGMPnow and LEAD Construction to make our vision reality,” said Mike O’Mara, chief operating officer at Cellipont.
The news of Cellipont’s expansion into the Lone Star State drew praise from Texas officials.
“We are proud that Cellipont Bioservices will call The Woodlands home. Their dynamic facility will be a jewel among the growing bioscience companies in our Research Forest commercial area. With healthcare as our largest business sector, Cellipont will undoubtedly enhance the sustainability of our medical hub,” said Gil Staley, CEO, The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership.
Ann Tanabe, CEO of industry group BioHouston, Inc. is also excited about the new project. “We know that the Houston area is a great place for the life sciences industry to take root, so it’s wonderful when a company located in one of the premier biotech hubs – San Diego – recognizes this and chooses Houston as their next strategic location,” she said.
Cellipont emerged from VetStem, a developer of veterinary regenerative therapies founded in Poway in 2002. Performance Cell Manufacturing, which was the development and manufacturing arm of VetStem, was spun out of the company in 2019.
Today, privately-held Cellipont’s core investor is Great Point Partners, which bought the company in January 2022 and rebranded it Cellipont.
Cellipont’s experienced leadership team has deep technical expertise and has been recognized by customers and partners for its ability to productively grow challenging cell types. CEO Wild calls Cellipont’s culture “customer-centric” — with a focus on “partnering, flexibility and responsiveness.”
In May, the company announced plans to expand its development and manufacturing facility at its Poway location. The expansion will enable Cellipont to increase capacity for process development and Phase I/II programs.
“This expansion will not only improve our capacity but will also allow us to design with the latest technologies and best practices in mind,” O’Mara said. “To help our clients reduce the cost of treatment, we strive to optimize the utilization of production suites and support services, and the new facility opens new doors for making that a reality.”
The Poway expansion, also supported by cGMPnow, includes additional warehousing, process development, quality control and analytical development spaces. The general contractor for the project is Dome Construction, a leader in the construction of state-of-the-art biologics and advanced cell therapy manufacturing facilities.
The new space is expected to be operational by the end of this year. Cellipont plans a corresponding increase in hiring to staff the new facility.
FOUNDED: 2002 (as VetStem)
CEO: Deborah Wild
BUSINESS: Cell therapy contract development and manufacturing
NOTABLE: The company has deep technical experience, including 18,000+ tissue samples and more than 1,800 primary cell cultures.