LabCentral 238 is a fully functional life sciences laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The laboratory is being developed by LabCentral, a US-based non-profit organisation established to support life sciences and biotechnology startups. It is focused on process development and scaling up bio-manufacturing.
The company celebrated the opening of the laboratory’s first phase in December 2021. The second phase is expected to be completed in Spring 2022.
The facility is intended to support startups in designing and testing their compounds before starting full-scale good manufacturing practice (GMP) production. It also aims to help expand the skilled workforce pool in biomanufacturing and life sciences in Massachusetts.
LabCentral 238 will host startups that have cleared preliminary research hurdles and are planning to conduct clinical trials. Prototypes of the drugs will be fast-tracked at the laboratory at a lower cost. By producing cost-effective prototypes at a faster pace, several life-saving drugs could be brought to consumers in a short time.
The facility currently houses six companies that are involved in research in the areas of gene therapies, mRNA, protein and antibody therapies, cell therapies, and regenerative medicine platforms for oncological, fibrotic, ocular, autoimmune and rare diseases.
Location and details of LabCentral 238
LabCentral 238 is being built at Kendall Square’s innovation hub in Cambridge. The laboratory is part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) new mixed-use development, South of Main Street (SoMa) Development. It takes its name from its location on 238 Main Street.
LabCentral 238 will include 100,000ft² (9,290.3m²) of shared office and laboratory space to allow companies to conduct process development studies. It is being developed on two floors of the Kendall Building, which will now include 12 floors with an added adjacent floor.
Financing for LabCentral 238
LabCentral 238 was announced in October 2019 with a $12.5m funding commitment from Japan’s Astellas Pharma and a $5m grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Centre (MLSC). The facility was backed by ThermoFisher Scientific and Waters with $22.4m in sponsorship commitments in February 2021. It has also received support from MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo).
The MLSC funding is being used to build the necessary infrastructure and procure lab equipment such as process development labs and non-GMP pilot plant capabilities, which will help companies with process development, scale-up and engineering runs.
The Cambridge Consortium for Rapid Covid-19 Tests
LabCentral 238 has partnered with BioLabs and E25Bio to form a consortium for Covid-19 rapid testing. Known as the Cambridge Consortium for Rapid Covid-19 Tests (CCRCT), the consortium is focused on combining resources and testing diagnostic assays for Sars-CoV-2 screening in asymptomatic populations.
The CCRCT is performing a clinical trial to test E25Bio’s novel SARS-CoV-2 Direct Antigen Rapid Test (DART), a self-administered, at-home test. DART can test and generate results in 15 minutes, compared with 24 hours for standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. It is an immunoassay for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles or secreted protein in anterior nasal swabs or saliva samples.
Marketing commentary on LabCentral 238
Established in Massachusetts in 2013, LabCentral 238 aims to offer a launchpad for life sciences and biotech startups. The company has more than 100,000ft² (9,290.3m²) of operating space in Cambridge and on the Harvard University campus, and can provide laboratory and office spaces for up to 100 startups.
LabCentral 238 also aims to create an inclusive biotech system to drive the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce training and entrepreneurship through its LabCentral Ignite initiative, a programme designed to expand the biotech industry’s talent base.
The company offers first-class facility and administrative support, a skilled laboratory operations team, and other critical services for early-stage companies.
It originally operated from a 28,000ft² (2,601.28m²) area, but moved to a 70,000ft² (6,503.21m²) area at its 700 Main Street location in May 2017 to meet growing demand from startups. In December 2017, the company opened a 33,000ft² (3,065.8m²) facility, LabCentral 610, with support from Pfizer.