Seattle biotech startup Sana Biotechnology will develop 163K square-foot facility in the Bay Area

(Sana Photo)

Sana Biotechnology, a young and fast-growing Seattle-based biotech, has chosen the San Francisco Bay Area as the site for its new biomanufacturing facility.

The gene editing and cell therapy company announced that it will develop a 163,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif. It plans to use the space to produce T cell therapies, human stem cells, and viral DNA to engineer cells.

Sana has offices in Seattle, San Francisco and Boston, and is advertising positions in all three regions, on the heels of a massive $587 million IPO in February.

“The Fremont location allows close proximity to Sana’s existing technical and scientific capabilities and access to a strong biotechnology talent base,” Sana said in a press release. We’ve follow up with Sana to learn more, and will update this post when we hear back.

Three-year old Sana, led by former executives at Juno, plans to use the new facility to manufacture products for late-stage clinical development and early commercial products, according to its release. The company currently has multiple pre-clinical programs but has not yet entered a product into clinical trials.

Competition for researchers skilled in biomanufacturing and other areas can be stiff, and the Bay Area is a much larger, more established biotechnology hub than Seattle. Biotech companies have a past history of spinning out in Seattle and then leaving for other areas after acquisition, with the 2014 move of Amgen’s Seattle operations after the acquisition of Immunex leaving scars on the biotech community.

But more recently, biotech and pharma companies are putting roots down in the region. Seagen and Bristol Myers Squibb have manufacturing facilities in the Seattle area, and today Lumen Biosciences announced it will build a smaller-scale manufacturing plant to grow algae-based therapies in a former bakery. In the last 12 months, companies in the Northwest have raised $8.6 billion in venture capital, according to a mid-2021 report from CBRE Life Sciences.

Seattle currently has 913,000 square feet of life sciences space under construction, according to the report. That’s compared to 2.8 million square feet in the “premier submarkets” of the North and South Peninsula of the Bay Area.

Both regions are riding a biotech boom, with IPOs and venture capital funding at all-time highs.

In a previous interview with GeekWire, Leslie Alexandre, CEO of the industry trade group Life Science Washington, said that Washington state needs to beef up its ability to educate and train a regional workforce.

“This turbo-charged growth will be short-lived if we fail to create and invest in a comprehensive, ten-year plan to meet the diverse workforce needs of fast-growing biotech companies,” she said.

Health/life sciences Biomanufacturing Leslie alexandre Life science washington Sana biotechnology