Pfizer set to open new manufacturing facility in Durham, create more jobs | WRAL TechWire

DURHAM – Drug giant Pfizer is set to cut the ribbon today for a new manufacturing facility in Durham that will over time create “more than 50” new jobs.

BethAnne Bort, the site lead and analytical research and development director, talked with WRAL News’ Kasey Cunningham about the facility:

What is the significance of the new facility in Durham? 

This new state-of-the-art clinical manufacturing facility expands Pfizer’s end-to-end capabilities in gene therapy manufacturing and testing, which includes more than 3,600 employees across sites in North Carolina.  The Durham facility will be home to Pfizer’s BioTherapeutics Pharmaceutical Sciences group, which is responsible for the manufacturing and analytical release of clinical supplies for Pfizer’s gene therapy and biologics portfolio.

What is Gene Therapy?

Gene Therapy is the use of genetic material in the treatment or prevention of disease. Typically, genetic material, such as a working copy of a gene, is delivered to cells using a vector. A vector is often derived from a virus. For safety, all viral genes are removed and the vector is modified to only deliver therapeutic genes into the cells. Once in the cell, a working copy of the gene will help make proteins despite the presence of a faulty gene. Achieving the normal expression and function of proteins makes a big impact on our overall health. Learn more about Gene Therapy Basics or Vectors 101.  

Cell Therapy is the transfer of cells into a patient with the goal of improving a disease. Some cell therapies are routine, like blood transfusions. One approach is gene-modified cell therapy, which removes the cells from the patient’s body, then a new gene can be introduced or a faulty gene can be corrected. The modified cells are then put back into the body. An example of this approach is CAR-T cell therapy.  

Gene Editing is a type of gene therapyThe goal of gene editing is to remove or correct pieces of DNA within the gene rather than replace the gene as regular gene therapy would. Gene editing uses technology that is highly precise to make this change inside the cell. The cells can be from the patient or donor.

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