SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, March 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Invest Puerto Rico (InvestPR), the Island’s economic development organization, and the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC), today announces that CytoImmune Therapeutics Puerto Rico LLC (“CTPR”) will establish cell therapy operations in Puerto Rico in 2021 with the aim of developing novel, coordinate immunotherapy solutions for cancer patients.
The new company, an affiliate of the California-based CytoImmune Therapeutics, organized under the provisions established by the Puerto Rico Incentives Code (Act 60) will be the first of its kind on the Island. Its purpose is to conduct R&D and manufacturing in a 37,000 square foot facility in Toa Baja.
CytoImmune has been developing and commercializing novel cancer immunotherapy products designed to utilize the power of the patient’s own immune system to eliminate cancer cells. This happens through proprietary Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) engineered T cells (CAR-T) technology, and an approach for natural killer (NK) cell immunotherapy that involves a CAR NK cell. This technology enables the cell to recognize specific proteins or antigens present on the surface of tumor cells.
Now, manufacturing of CAR NK cells for first-inhuman phase 1 clinical trials will be performed in CytoImmune’s Puerto Rico facilities. Because of the ability to freeze and thaw these CAR NK cells, multiple institutions can be involved in early phase clinical trials, including some in Puerto Rico, thereby hastening accrual in each clinical stage.
The initiative represents an investment of $28 million in the Island ($8 million by CTPR with co-investment of $17 million by CytoImmune), including machinery and equipment. CTPR expects to hire up to 100 professionals with estimated total payroll of $7 million annually.
“We are pleased to welcome CytoImmune to Puerto Rico. The company’s commitment to stand up R&D and manufacturing facilities on the Island is a testament to Puerto Rico’s potential as a viable investment destination and speaks to Puerto Rico’s value proposition as a life science hub,” says Rodrick Miller, CEO of Invest Puerto Rico. “We work to strengthen Puerto Rico’s position each day with an ever-resilient business ecosystem designed to encourage new investment in the short and long term.”
“CytoImmune Therapeutics Puerto Rico is a leader in the field of cell therapy and immunotherapy for the treatment of cancers. This is an excellent opportunity to establish an R&D facility in Toa Baja. CTPR with this remarkable scientific discovery will bring hope to many of the sick people with cancer worldwide,” says Bernardo Márquez García, the mayor of Toa Baja. “We understand that our Municipality and Puerto Rico can benefit from 100+ jobs, and my administration will support CytoImmune’s development.”
Will Rosellini, Co-founder and President of CytoImmune, noted, “Puerto Rico was the obvious choice for expanding our operations. The Island, with proven history in the life science sector, can support our research and development, including a deep talent pool, supportive business climate, and many other high-value intangibles.”