Gene & cell therapy manufacturer Ascend launches with more than $130M

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adeno-associated virus AAV

Ascend Gene & Cell Therapies (Ascend), a company innovating manufacturing processes to improve quality, potency, safety and cost enabling better reach for gene therapy technologies, has launched as a facilitator for gene therapy companies to help translate product ideas into clinical programs.

Ascend Gene & Cell Therapies offers process development, clinical manufacturing, and analytical and regulatory support for biotech companies working in advanced modalities requiring CMC services.

Originally founded by Monograph Capital, Ascend Gene & Cell Therapies has raised a total of $132.5 million, most recently completing a Series A fundraise led by Abingworth and Petrichor, supported by DCVC Bio, 4BIO Capital, Cathay Health, Deerfield Management, Digitalis Ventures and Ajinomoto Co., Inc.

This fundraising has enabled the acquisition of CMC capabilities and technologies from Freeline Therapeutics, and provides a way to build the business.

Ascend Gene & Cell Therapies will initially focus on adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors.

Operating from an evolving technology base that uses a split two-plasmid transfection system for AAV manufacture and broad suite of assays, Ascend has an established global footprint created by acquiring and merging teams across three countries and two continents.

U.K., U.S. and German footprints for Ascend Gene & Cell Therapies

Ascend Gene & Cell Therapies, which brings together a team of approximately 120, is headquartered in the U.K. with GMP production in Potters Bar, North London. There is also platform technology research in the San Francisco Bay area in the U.S., and a specialist process development and analytics team in Munich, Germany.

The company is headed by former chief operating officer at Cognate Bioservices (now part of Charles River), chief executive officer Mike Stella, who brings 30 years of manufacturing expertise. Ascend’s team also includes chief financial officer Wes McConnell, chief scientific officer Markus Hörer, and chief operating officer Arjan Roozen.

Stella said: “Ascend is a service provider for biotechnology companies, created by bringing together expert teams with regulatory sophistication who have ‘been-there-done-that’ and who understand that the quality and potency of product is just as important as yield.”

“We believe that creating a therapy that changes lives means improving on what’s come before. We are excited to bring a new approach to the space and thank all our investors for their support. We will continue to refine and flex our model, staying adaptable to meet the needs of the market.”

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