A Fishers-based cell and gene therapy company has received a capital infusion it says will fuel growth in central Indiana. Genezen Laboratories Inc., which manufactures viral vectors used to treat rare diseases and cellular therapies to treat cancer, says the growth equity investment from Massachusetts-based Ampersand Capital Partners will be used to complete construction on its 25,000-square-foot production facility and create dozens of jobs.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Chief Executive Officer Bill Vincent said the process of securing the funding was a “long road.”
“Genezen has been self-funded completely up to this point…and we’ve had tremendous growth,” said Vincent. “But these facilities are really expensive to build. We were able to talk with several firms that were interested and ended up choosing Ampersand because they have experience in this space. They work mainly in healthcare and they’ve done a lot of CDMO-type organizations both in the cell and gene therapy space, as well as in traditional pharma and some other areas.”
The amount of the investment is not being disclosed. However, Ampersand’s website says the firm typically invests between $10 million and $100 million.
As a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization, Vincent says Genezen doesn’t develop the therapies, but manufactures them for startups that do not have their own manufacturing capabilities.
Genezen signed a 10-year lease for the facility and is building it out over several phases. The first phase will include a product development and testing lab, which is expected to be complete by mid-year. The second phase will feature the build out of cGMP-compliant clean room production areas, which are expected to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2022.
Vincent says the decision to partner with Ampersand was about more than just money.
“It’s the relationships and the knowledge and the partnerships and everything that they have built up over time that they bring to us that is really what we saw as a lot of value,” said Vincent.”
Even though the company is only in the first phase of development for the facility, Vincent says he would not be surprised if demand forces the company to expand even further.
“Ten years ago, there wasn’t a gene and cell therapy industry and even now, we only have five approved products in the U.S. So we’re in the very early days of cell and gene therapy and so I can easily foresee that in 10 years, or sooner, that we could need even more space, whether that’s in this current location or whether we build a second location. And there are advantages to both.”
Genezen currently has 10 employees and Vincent expects that number to grow to nearly 40 over the next year and potentially 60 by the end of 2022.
“Given the ongoing growth of the cell and gene therapy sector, and the continued supply/demand imbalance in cGMP manufacturing, we are excited to partner with another specialized service provider in the space,” David Anderson, general partner at Ampersand, said in a news release. “We look forward to working with the Genezen team to leverage our deep experience with cell and gene therapy CDMOs to establish a leading platform in this revolutionary healthcare market.”
Vincent says the process of securing the funding was a “long road.”