AstraZeneca announced to build a new cell therapy discovery and development facility in Rockville, Maryland, US. Photo: Business Wire.
The facility will manufacture for crucial cancer studies and develop commercial cell therapy platforms. Credit: warut pothikit/
The facility is expected to begin operations in 2026. Credit: CI Photos/

AstraZeneca, a biopharmaceutical company based in the UK, will build an advanced manufacturing facility in Rockville, Maryland, US, to launch its life-saving cell therapy platforms in the US, which are essential for critical cancer trials and future commercial supply.

It will expand the company’s manufacturing footprint in the US to accelerate the discovery and development of the next-generation cell therapy. The expansion aligns with AstraZeneca’s broader strategy in oncology cell therapy, aiming to enhance the immune system’s T-cells to combat cancer more effectively.

With the new facility, AstraZeneca’s global manufacturing and supply network will be fortified, reinforcing its dedication to delivering innovative treatments to patients worldwide.

The company is expected to invest $300m in the project, which is expected to generate more than 150 new highly skilled jobs. The facility will initially focus on the production of T-cell therapies to facilitate clinical trials globally and can potentially be expanded to cater to other disease areas in the future.

It is anticipated to be fully operational by 2026.

Location of AstraZeneca’s advanced manufacturing facility

The facility will be situated at 9950 Medical Centre Drive within the Alexandria Centre® for Life Science – Shady Grove mega campus in Rockville, Maryland.

The site of the proposed facility has been leased to AstraZeneca by Alexandria Real Estate Equities. The UK-based pharmaceutical company has entered a 13-year lease agreement with Alexandria Real Estate Equities for the entire Class A+ facility, which is set to last until June 2036.

The Shady Grove campus comprises approximately 1.2 million rentable square footage (RSF) in operation and 807,000 RSF designated for future development, providing a scalable environment for companies.

Located less than five miles from one of AstraZeneca’s global R&D centres, the facility is strategically placed within the thriving life sciences corridor in Montgomery County, Maryland. With proximity to several universities, the life sciences ecosystem provides an attractive place for offering access to new and experienced talent.

AstraZeneca’s manufacturing facility details

The 84,264ft² state-of-the-art facility will be dedicated to the manufacturing of CAR-T cell therapies, supporting AstraZeneca’s global clinical trials in cancer treatment.

The site represents the latest investment in cell therapy for AstraZeneca following strategic partnerships and acquisitions, including those with Quell Therapeutics, AbelZeta, Cellectis, and Neogene Therapeutics.

The Rockville site will enter AstraZeneca’s extensive network of approximately 30 manufacturing and supply sites across 16 countries, which are either currently operational or under development.

Financing details from Maryland

The Maryland Department of Commerce is considering a $500,000 conditional loan through the Advantage Maryland programme to support the project.

Montgomery County is also proposing a $100,000 conditional grant from its Economic Development Fund. AstraZeneca is expected to be eligible for further incentives, such as the More Jobs for Marylanders programme and the state’s Job Creation Tax Credit.

Advancements in AstraZeneca’s oncology cell therapy

AstraZeneca’s oncology cell therapy ambitions were significantly advanced with the acquisition of Neogene Therapeutics in November 2022. Subsequently, in June 2023, the company entered an agreement with Quell Therapeutics to develop engineered T-regulatory cell therapies for autoimmune diseases. Collaborations with Cellectis in November 2023 furthered AstraZeneca’s objectives in cell therapy and genomic medicine.

The company’s portfolio in cell therapy is designed to enhance the immune system’s T-cells for more effective cancer combat. Research teams are exploring innovative approaches to target and arm CAR-Ts, aiming to improve their efficacy in solid tumours by countering the immune-suppressive tumour microenvironment. AstraZeneca is also developing next-generation cell therapies, potentially offering off-the-shelf patient-ready therapies developed from the cells of healthy donors.

AstraZeneca is advancing with multiple armoured autologous chimeric antigen receptor therapies, including those targeting Glypican 3 (GPC3) in hepatocellular carcinoma.