A California-based biotechnology company plans to open a laboratory in downtown Richmond that will help monitor people’s immune system responses to vaccines and medical treatments.
The laboratory is expected to create 300 jobs over the next three years.
Aditxt Therapeutics Inc. is opening the laboratory in a 25,000-square-foot space at 737 N. Fifth St. in the Virginia Bio+Tech Park with plans for future expansion.
The company is planning to invest $31.5 million to open the lab, which the company calls an immune monitoring center.
The company’s goal is build up the Richmond operations over three years to have the capacity to conduct about 10 million tests under what it calls its AditxtScore program, which will provide a profile of patients’ immune systems and help track immunity to specific diseases including COVID-19.
The main focus of public health during the COVID-19 pandemic has been on preventing new infections, said Amro Albanna, the co-founder and CEO of Aditxt, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., and employs about 55 people now.
“Infection status was the focus and, understandably so, to minimize the loss of lives,” Albanna said. “As we move forward, we must transition from focusing on infection status to protection status.
“We need to understand our individual immunity status so we can make better decisions as we move forward.”
The company’s investment includes the new jobs, laboratory equipment and construction.
The announcement was made Monday afternoon at a joint news conference with Gov. Ralph Northam, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and other local business executives and political officials.
Northam said the company is “pioneering a new approach to our immune system health” in customized and individualized health care.
“Why this is important is there are so many disorders that we take care of on a day-to-day basis that are immune-related,” such as arthritis and thyroid conditions and neurological disorders, Northam said. “They are all related to the immune system.”
“If we collect the data and analyze that data, then when Patient A comes in, we can say exactly what their immune system is all about and know exactly how to best treat them,” Northam said. “What this does is provide better care and also decreases the cost of health care because it takes a lot of the guesswork out.”
Aditxt is moving into the Biotech 8 building in the Bio+Tech Park, which also houses labs and offices for several other businesses and organizations such as Phlow Corp. and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medicines for All Institute.
Albanna said the company is hoping to set up its initial operations in June. The company plans to offer free tests to all front-line workers employed by the city of Richmond “as a token of appreciation” to the city.
Stoney said the investment and jobs “will help bring positive change to the great city of Richmond,” adding that biotechnology and life sciences are critical to the city’s economic development.
“The addition of Aditxt Therapeutics is another giant step in the right direction,” Stoney said.
Aditxt sold stock in an initial public offering last July and now trades on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ADTX.
“Really, our goal and our vision ... is to develop an immune monitoring network,” Albanna said. “We believe that understanding our immunity should not be a reactive test when something goes wrong. It really should be an ongoing, proactive monitoring of our immunity. That is what we are pushing forward with.”