Greater Philadelphia has a new tool to tell the story of collaboration and connectivity in the region’s hub for cell and gene therapy. Titled Greater Philadelphia: Discovery Starts Here,” the 90-second video animation shares a snapshot of several of the region’s world-class research institutions and a number of the cell and gene therapy companies that have licensed technologies or spun out from them. The video animation was created by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s CEO Council for Growth with its partners in the Cell & Gene Therapy Initiative.

“Our region is experiencing exceptional growth in our cell and gene therapy ecosystem,” said Claire Marrazzo Greenwood, Executive Director and Senior Vice President of Economic Competitiveness for the Chamber. “Among other factors, this is reflected in the more than 50 cell and gene therapy R&D companies that now call Greater Philadelphia home; the $3 billion in investment the region’s cell and gene therapy sector attracted in 2021, according to data from DealForma; and the 80 percent increase in employment at cell and gene therapy companies and contract manufacturing organizations in the past three years, as measured by LinkedIn profiles in a talent study by Econsult Solutions. The ‘Greater Philadelphia: Discovery Starts Here’ video animation brings this story to life and demonstrates how the collaboration, connectivity, and robust investment in our region contribute to this momentum,” she said.

“Greater Philadelphia: Discovery Starts Here” highlights five of the region’s leading research institutions: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Pennsylvania, and The Wistar Institute. It then builds to illustrate 15 companies that have direct links to one or more of those five research institutions. The video animation further develops to identify four categories of companies: emerging, privately held, publicly traded, or acquired. These companies are indicative of the sector’s growth. It further illustrates how more than 80 investors from throughout the region and across the U.S. have supported these companies.

The 15 cell and gene therapy companies include Adaptimmune; Aevi Genomic Medicine, Inc. (acquired by Avalo Therapeutics, Inc.); Cabaletta Bio; Carisma Therapeutics; Cartio TherapeutIcs; Imvax; INOVIO; Interius BioTherapeutics; KOP Therapeutics; Passage Bio; Renovacor; Scout Bio; Spark Therapeutics, a member of the Roche Group; Verismo Therapeutics; and Virion Therapeutics.

“Greater Philadelphia is the birthplace of cell and gene therapy,” said Greenwood. “This is where, more than two decades ago, early gene therapy research was launched at the University of Pennsylvania. It is also home to the collaboration between Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Penn Medicine that developed CART T-cell cancer treatment therapy,” she said. “The region that is home to the first FDA-approved gene therapy for a genetic disease and the first FDA-approved cell therapy is now home to more than 50 cell and gene therapy companies, many of them emanating from Greater Philadelphia’s world-class research institutions.”

“Philadelphia keeps building on its momentum as home to some of the most important advances in cell and gene therapy, from discoveries at the bench and clinical innovations to the rapid commercialization of breakthrough technologies that are helping patients across the globe,” said Jonathan A. Epstein, MD, chief scientific officer for Penn Medicine and executive vice dean and the William Wikoff Smith Professor of Cardiovascular Research in the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn. “As our family tree keeps growing, so does our impact on the health of our region and world.”

“Members of the Greater Philadelphia Cell and Gene Therapy Initiative are committed to accelerating the pace of cell and gene therapy research and bringing that research from the bench to patients worldwide,” said Susan Furth, MD, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Our collective resources have fueled this growth and led to game-changing success, with the future holding the promise of even more exciting discoveries to come.”

“Venture financing of our cell and gene therapy startups has been strong, accelerating the discovery and development of potential breakthrough therapies in areas of significant unmet need.  We have also seen the state support construction of key facilities, with Imvax receiving a multimillion-dollar RACP award for a new cell processing center in Center City. (The RACP grant is administered by the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects.),” said Rose Ritts, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Innovation for Jefferson Health & Thomas Jefferson University.

The “Greater Philadelphia: Discovery Starts Here” video animation is part of a toolkit developed by the CEO Council for use by stakeholders in the cell and gene therapy ecosystem to demonstrate the story of collaboration and connectivity in the region and to communicate Greater Philadelphia’s leadership in life sciences and cell and gene therapy. The video animation will also be widely shared through a LinkedIn social media campaign and is available on the CEO Council website.

In addition to the “Greater Philadelphia: Discovery Starts Here” video, and cell and gene therapy toolkit, the Cell and Gene Therapy Initiative is working to build awareness of the region’s growth and assets for cell and gene therapy companies through activities including the ‘Discovery Starts with Me’ video series, a monthly newsletter, and the news section of the Select Greater Philadelphia website.

“Through the Cell & Gene Therapy Initiative, we will continue to tell stories about the region’s cell and gene therapy companies and their significant investments and contributions to cell and gene therapy discovery,” Greenwood said.