Two new biomedical facilities in the western San Fernando Valley held their official openings in recent weeks.
First, on April 29, the Westwood-based Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation officially opened a 50,000-square-feet, $30 million biomedical research facility in Woodland Hills.
On May 8, Israeli biotech company ImmPACT Bio, which is developing chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) immunotherapies to treat cancer, held a grand opening for its U.S. headquarters, research and development and patient clinical trial facility in West Hills, nine months after moving there from Camarillo.
This is the third facility for Westwood-based Terasaki Institute, which was founded in 1990 by the late organ transplant pioneer Paul Terasaki and has focused much of its research on technologies such as “organ-on-a-chip,” tissue engineering, sensors, microneedles, and bioprinting.
The institute’s first facility – both for research and administrative offices – is near UCLA’s Westwood campus, where Terasaki taught.
Then came another facility in Sawtelle that was recently repurposed as a biotech incubator.
The complex in Woodland Hills that just celebrated its grand opening was originally built in 1971 and served for many years as the headquarters for Weider Health and Fitness, now known as Weider Global Nutrition and headquartered in Gilbert, Arizona.
The Terasaki Institute bought the building in 2020 and began renovations later that year, hiring Miracle Mile-based CO Architects for the design work. The institute is in the midst of moving up to 100 employees into the building, which has the capacity to house 100 additional employees. It has also installed state-of-the-art research equipment.
“We are thrilled to open our doors to the public and share our research with the world,” said Ali Khademhousseini, the institute’s chief executive. “The Terasaki Institute is committed to pushing the boundaries of biomedical engineering research to develop innovative solutions that will transform the future of healthcare.”
The ImmPACT Bio facility consists of 21,500 square feet of lab and manufacturing space in West Hills. It will support clinical production of the company’s lead drug candidate – given a preliminary name of IMPT-314 – which uses chimeric antigen receptor T-cell, or CAR-T, immunotherapy targeting certain types of malignancies and autoimmune diseases.
ImmPACT Bio is one of several local companies pursuing CAR-T immunotherapy; another more well-known one is Santa Monica-based Kite, which is now a unit of Foster City-based Gilead Sciences Inc. ImmPACT Bio was founded in Rehovot, Israel, in 2017 and then a couple of years later became a United States-based company, setting up its first office in Camarillo, which had about 5,400 square feet of space.
The new facility has almost four times as much space.
“We are pleased to celebrate the grand opening of ImmPACT Bio’s first U.S.-based GMP manufacturing facility, an instrumental milestone marking the clinical readiness of our lead program IMPT-314,” said Sumant Ramachandra, the company’s chief executive.
“The West Hills facility in Los Angeles will support our clinical manufacturing capacity, advance our clinical studies, and help position us for success when we approach commercial launch,” he added.
The company’s chief technology officer, Sylvain Roy, elaborated on the spaciousness of the new facility.
“The all-encompassing layout that includes research, development, quality labs plus manufacturing in one facility aims to help break barriers between teams and facilitate the rapid transfer of knowledge,” Roy said.
In its announcement of the grand opening, the company said it expects to begin a second round of clinical trials of its lead drug candidate this quarter with the dosing of the first patient for that trial.