MORRISVILLE – Heat Biologics says it is doubling the size of its R&D facilities in Morrisville to better support its drug development programs.

Heat specializes in disease-fighting therapies that activate patients’ immune systems against cancer and other diseases. 

The Morrisville site currently consists of more than 7,000 square feet of lab and office space. Its footprint will grow to close to 15,000 square feet with the expansion, Heat said. The company plans to bring more clinical and pre-clinical development – including the synthesis of antibodies – in-house. It’s expected to accelerate R&D timelines and save money on research and development that otherwise would have been outsourced to third-party vendors.

Heat has begun Phase 2 clinical trials to study a new treatment (HS-110) for non-small cell lung cancer. It also has initiated a Phase 1 trial for HS-130, its off-the-shelf cell line engineered to stimulate T-cells to assist in immune response to disease. And it is working on a vaccine to tackle the COVID-19 virus by triggering the immune system to both attack the coronavirus and then protect against its recurrence. 

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Another early-stage technology under development by Heat’s Pelican Therapeutics division, PTX-35, is designed to harness the body’s natural antigen-specific immune activation mechanisms to help eliminate tumor cells.

Heat currently employs 23 people at the Morrisville facility. That number is expected to grow as the new lab space comes online and Heat adds clinical and research personnel.

“We are delighted to announce plans to double the size of our current facilities to support and accelerate activities around our oncology and non-oncology programs,” said Heat CEO Jeff Wolf. “We look forward to leveraging these new facilities as we accelerate our discovery and development efforts.”

The company, a 2008 University of Miami spinout, moved to North Carolina in 2011. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center was instrumental in encouraging Wolf to relocate to the state from Florida, and in supporting the startup company when it arrived.

NCBiotech provided Heat’s initial source of funding in 2011 – a $225,000 Strategic Growth Loan – and also made temporary office space available in the Center’s Landing Pad. It granted a $3,000 industrial intern award in 2012 to support the company’s initial public offering of stock on the NASDAQ exchange.

As Heat Biologics began to grow, Wolf set up shop in Durham in 2013. Heat moved to its current Morrisville location six years later, in 2019. The company also has labs in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and San Antonio, Texas.

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