SignaGen acquired their new home in July in the Westview area of Frederick County. Due to their financial investment and job creation the company has taken advantage of the county fast track permitting process. They will be moving to an already biotech-focused area, with companies like RoosterBio, Indivumed, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Imquest BioSciences all of which are partnering with others for discovery, drug development, clinical trials, and therapies. SignaGen products are being used in research and drug development seeking a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington's Disease (HD), Hemophilia, Leukemia and other conditions. Frederick County continues to attract companies focused on cell and gene therapy and is becoming a destination of choice for many with the already deep network and the ongoing and evolving support from its budding biotech ecosystem. SignaGen is a welcome addition to Frederick County’s bioscience cluster and we had a conversation with Jeffrey Zhou, General Partner about the company and their upcoming move.
1. Tell us about the company and what you are working on currently:
SignaGen Laboratories is a fast-growing biotechnology company focusing on providing services and products to support the rapidly growing field of gene therapy.
From 1st day of its creation, SignaGen has been striving to become the leader in developing cutting-edge technologies for viral vector packaging and manufacturing viral vector products to meet the gene therapy needs of the research community and pharmaceuticals. For chemical-based gene delivery approach, we have successfully developed and launched unique yet powerful transfection reagents for both in vitro and in vivo applications. For viral vector-based gene delivery approach, we have developed robust and proprietary virus packaging systems to produce adenovirus, adeno-associated virus (AAV) and lentivirus in high quality and maximum yield.
So far there are over 5,000 scientific papers citing our products and services. SignaGen Laboratories, a gene delivery company, supporting the gene therapy community with chemical and viral approaches.
2. How did the company start in 2008, why are you expanding now, and what are your goals for once you open your new facility here in Frederick?
SignaGen Laboratories, founded in Rockville by two ambitious bench scientists in 2008, aimed to offer chemical and viral approaches to the gene therapy field. To meet more and more demands from the research community and pharmaceuticals, we are building a 16,000 sf of a new facility in Frederick to implement cGMP production of viral vector for clinical trial purpose. We are expecting to construct 3 FDA- and EMA-compliant cGMP suites in the new facility to manufacture clinical grade of viral vectors by the end of 2020.
3. What were the main factors you were looking at when deciding on a new location for your company, and what made you choose Frederick County?
Frederick County is a dynamic and diverse county where creativity meets innovation. The county has an $11 billion dollar economy that boasts a high concentration of highly educated workers, a world-class bioscience and advanced technology sector, and a solid manufacturing tradition. Also, Frederick County is home to Fort Detrick and the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, as well as most of the nation’s biological defense programs. The county is also a leader in worldwide biomedical research with the National Cancer Institute’s Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, AstraZeneca, Lonza, Life Technologies, and ThermoFisher etc., creating a big biotechnology family and an innovative and friendly environment for small biotech to grow bigger.
4. How has your experience been so far and what are you most looking forward to once the new facility is fully open?
Frederick County has been very helpful and friendly in helping us move to the new facility. So far in the fast track permit process the site plan was approved while the building permit application was processed and is pending approval. We expect to have the phase I construction ready at the beginning of 2020 and we are looking forward to initiating the phase II cGMP construction in the middle of 2020. We plan to move into the new space around January of 2020 and launch research, development, and manufacturing of research-grade viral vector immediately. Of course, we look forward to hiring more researchers and scientists to join our dynamic vector production team.
For more information about SignaGen Laboratories, visit http://www.signagen.com