Iovance Biotherapeutics has announced plans to construct a commercial-scale production facility in Philadelphia, US.

This 136,000ft2 plant will be used to develop tumour-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) cell therapy products for both clinical and commercial purposes.

Iovance has signed a lease agreement for the building, which is estimated to take two years to complete. The construction process is expected to generate employment opportunities for several hundred people.

The company plans to invest around $75m over three years for purchasing equipment and building the manufacturing infrastructure.

Iovance Biotherapeutics president and CEO Maria Fardis said: “The 22-day Iovance Gen 2 TIL therapy process is robust and scalable, and has led to impressive responses in melanoma, cervical and head and neck indications.

“Building our own internal production capabilities will help us reduce the cost of operations, which is necessary for offering broad access to TIL therapy.

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“We look forward to beginning construction within the next few weeks. Our intention is to continue collaborating with our existing contract manufacturing organisations while we complete the facility in 2021.”

Autologous TIL cell therapy involves the isolation and amplification of immune cells taken from a patient tissue sample. The polyclonal active T-cell population is then cryopreserved and shipped to Iovance’s US and European sites where it is infused into the patient.

The new production facility is being developed and constructed by Gattuso Development Partners and design and construction management firm CRB.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia and economic development agency PIDC have provided financial support for the project. Iovance has obtained a letter of intent from PIDC for a five-year option involving additional space to support any increases in capacity.