With the global market for cell and gene therapy (CGT) products set to skyrocket in the coming years, Hong Kong is looking to get in on the action with the opening of a new Advanced Therapy Products (ATP) Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Centre earlier this month.
Leveraging the city’s well-established scientific excellence and its connections to both the sizeable mainland Chinese market and the wider world, Hong Kong is aiming to ramp up its footprint across upstream basic research, midstream technology transfer, and downstream industrial development, as laid out in last year’s Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Development Blueprint.
As part of this push, the ATP GMP centre “will forge a world-class CGT manufacturing industry in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area [nine cities of Guangdong Province in Southern China, which account for around 30 percent of the Province’s land mass, plus the Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macao],” according to a press release. Worldwide, there are more than 60,000 patients currently participating in CGT clinical trials, yet the average waiting time is 18 months just to access a GMP clean room to produce CGT products, showcasing the clear need for these types of production facilities, including in Asia.
The Centre will be located at the Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology Limited (HKIB), adjoining the Hong Kong Science Park, and was formally opened by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Professor Rocky S. Tuan, vice-chancellor and president of CUHK, said, “The CUHK ATP GMP Centre represents a significant development in the innovation and research agenda of Hong Kong, and is also a realisation of the ambitions and aspirations of our former Vice-Chancellor, the late Professor Sir Charles Kao, who envisioned biotechnology as critical to the future prosperity of Hong Kong and established the Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology at CUHK in 1988. The new Centre combines the proven capabilities of CUHK and the HKSTP to accelerate the development of life-saving cancer therapies, regenerative medicine, and related biomedical technologies, and enable the translation of scientific research into tangible benefits for patients in Hong Kong and beyond. It also creates a fertile breeding ground for talented researchers and practitioners who contribute to the sustainable future of Hong Kong.”
HKSTP CFO Aldous Mak added that “The opening of the CUHK ATP GMP Centre is a landmark moment in the vision to establish a world-class cell and gene therapy manufacturing industry in Hong Kong and the GBA. HKSTP is thrilled to be working with CUHK, our long-term partner, in bringing this critical addition to Hong Kong’s fast-growing biotech infrastructure landscape to further accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into life-saving biomedical innovations to benefit societies around the world. The collaboration not only accelerates R&D work in ATP, but also makes vital treatment and care more available for more patients.”