Another biotech company sets up shop at the Philadelphia Navy Yard to produce cell therapy cancer treatment

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Another biotechnology company that scouted locations all over the country has broken ground at the Philadelphia Navy Yard for a production facility. The company plans to launch its own manufacturing hub to produce cell therapy cancer treatments.

Northern California-based Iovance Biotherapeutics CEO Maria Fardis says their immunotherapies have already had impressive responses in advanced melanoma and cervical cancer. 

“It’s a product that is very different than what has been used traditionally in the treatment of cancer,” Fardis said. 

Iovance’s cell therapy is highly targeted for cancer patients.

“About 10 percent have bloodborne cancers, and about 90 percent are solid tumors. Our product is addressing solid tumors,” Fardis said.


John Grady, the president of PIDC, the city’s economic development corporation and master developer of the Navy Yard, says Iovance’s move here is another indication the ecosystem is changing across a diverse range of industries and sectors.

“From ships and industrial coatings, to Tastykakes to T-cells,” Grady said. 

While the Navy Yard was an important hub for shipbuilding for 120 years until it closed in the 1990s, Grady says it remains an active place “of employment, production and innovation.” 

“And at the Navy Yard, we’re particularly proud that we still make things,” he said. 

Right now, more than 14,000 people work everyday for more than 170 employers at the Navy Yard from manufacturing to financial services, fashion, higher education and especially, as Grady puts it, “a booming life-sciences sector.” 

“And you’re going to hear more and more about Philadelphia as Cellicon Valley,” he added. 

That means jobs in the Philadelphia region, according to Iovance’s Fardis.

“It’s a highly technical process. So we’re looking for very well-educated, sophisticated individuals. The City of Philadelphia and what it offers in terms of resources and employees, was one of our major factors in decision making,” she said. 

The $125 million Iovance Biotherapeutics project is expected to be completed in 2021.

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