Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. plans to invest $100 million in its US Sanford operations as part of a push into gene therapy, officials said. The effort builds on a technology developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and will create 40 jobs in Sanford. Preliminary work on the expansion and initial hiring have already begun. The 230-acre campus employs about 450 people.
Gene therapy is a potentially transformational technology for patients that involves highly specialized, one-time treatments to address the root cause of diseases caused by genetic mutation. The technology involves introducing genetic material into the body to deliver a correct copy of a gene to a patient’s cells to compensate for a defective or missing gene.
“Pfizer is proud to further expand our presence in North Carolina, particularly as we build our leadership in gene therapy,” Lynn Bottone, site leader at Pfizer Sanford, said in a statement. “We look forward to the next phase of this expansion as we build a clinical and commercial manufacturing facility.”
Pfizer is also expanding a drug-manufacturing facility in Rocky Mount that it acquired from Hospira in 2015. The $190 million project will add 65,000 square feet of sterile injectable facilities but will not create any new jobs. The plant employs about 300 people.
Pfizer qualified for a performance-based grant of $250,000 from the One North Carolina Fund, which provides state assistance matched by local governments to help attract economic investment and create jobs.