Bend Bioscience will act as a research hub for pharmaceutical companies looking to outsource research.
A new Bend-based bioscience lab could become operational as early as December of this year, with manufacturing and analytical capabilities coming online in mid-2023.
Earlier this month, the early-phase Bend Bioscience, along with the private equity manager QHP Capital, announced plans to open a $16 million, 20,000-square-foot lab in Bend. The lab will not be dedicated to developing any specific technologies, but serve as a hub for partnerships with pharmaceutical companies looking to outsource bioscience research and development.
“As business, our vision is that of a partner or a contractor. We aren’t on going off on or own and developing new technology. What we do is invest in the infrastructure, equipment, instrumentation, and expertise,” says Dan Dobry, co-founder of Bend Bioscience, which launched last year. and the chief strategy officer at its Florida-based parent company, CoreRx. “When pharmaceutical companies have a particular problem such as stabilizing vaccines, or enhancing oral bioavailability of poorly water soluble molecules or something else, we use our expertise to enhance and co-develop technologies with our partners.”
Inside rendering of Bend Bioscience’s new facility. Credit: Bend Bioscience.
Dobry says current trends in the pharmaceutical industry favor larger companies outsourcing bioscience research rather than doing the research in-house.
As treatments and gene therapy become more specialized, he says demand for bioscience solutions, and investment into the sector, will continue to grow.
“For companies looking to develop a new product, either experimental or commercial, there’s a scarcity of resources out there to do it with. A lot of bigger pharmaceutical companies have chosen models to outsource to expertise rather than to try to carry that cost and overhead internally,” says Dobry.
He adds that trends in oncology and molecular biology have led to further and further specialization in the industry. For example, treatments which attack one specific kind of cancer cell — while leaving the other cells in the body alone — would be poisonous if administered to a patient with a different kind of cancer.
Key areas of expertise and infrastructure for the Bend Bioscience team will include spray-drying, a process that involves atomizing a liquid in hot gas, creating dry solid powder, as well as process bioavailability enhancement, stabilization of biologics and vaccines, and particle engineering for pulmonary delivery.
The new lab will employ about 50 people. Oregon’s second Congressional district, in which Bend is located, had more than 150 bioscience firms in 2016, according to the Oregon Bioscience Association.
Dobry says the presence of multiple bioscience facilities in the area does not present a competitive threat — and in fact, he hopes the company will partner with the Oregon Bioscience Association once the facility is complete to further grow Oregon’s bioscience sector.
“I don’t worry about oversaturation. Our customer base isn’t Bend, it’s the global biotech and pharmaceutical industry, so it’s irrelevant to our customers who use our services where we are located,” says Dobry. “For us it’s better to be near the cluster. It means asking someone to move out here for a job is an easier prospect. It means that even if things don’t work out, they’ll still be able to find a job where they live.”
In August, Oregon Freeze Dry announced the construction of a similar bioscience research and development facility in Albany, also citing increased demand from biopharmaceutical companies as a reason for its expansion.
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