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Biotech research company to set up U.S. headquarters near Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center

Vycellix, based in Stockholm, Sweden, was founded by researchers from the prestigious Karolinska Institutet
Vycellix, a Swedish cancer therapy research company, is setting up its U.S. headquarters near the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa. (Times files
Vycellix, a Swedish cancer therapy research company, is setting up its U.S. headquarters near the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa. (Times files
Published Feb. 22

TAMPA — The Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden is a medical university so esteemed that 50 of its professors pick the winners of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

Now a cancer therapy development company founded by researchers at the institute has picked Tampa as the home for its future headquarters.

Vycellix, which works to create new cell- and gene-based cancer therapies, will start in April to the University Park Business Center on E Fowler Avenue, near the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. Tampa will be home to the company's president, Douglas Calder, along with its chief financial officer, general counsel, intellectual property officer and head of information technology.

"In the short term, we'll continue to conduct our R&D scientific operations at the Karolinksa Institute," Calder said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times, "as well as through sponsored research activities with the Moffitt Cancer Center and other (National Cancer Institute) comprehensive cancer centers."

The Tampa location will serve as Vycellix's primary headquarters, Calder said, though the company plans to launch subsidiaries with operations in Stockholm.

"Over the next 12 months, we'll be making decisions related to establishing our own labs with cell manufacturing capacity," he said. "The number of jobs we create over the next 12-24 months will be largely reliant on the type, size and capabilities of such a multi-purpose facility."

Along with developing solutions to improve various aspects of cell-based therapies, the company is working on what are known as "natural killer" cell therapies for targeting solid tumors and hematological malignancies. And it already has Florida connections: its chief executive officer, president and two Vycellix founders have ties to the Nova Southeastern University Cell Therapy in Fort Lauderdale.

"Vycellix's platform technologies hold the potential to enhance many of the current immuno-oncology therapies being developed at Moffitt," Moffitt associate center director for translational science James Mulé said in an announcement of the move.

'High-pressure brainstorming': Could math help defeat cancer? Moffitt is betting it will

Vycellix is not receiving any state or local incentives to make the move, according to Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

"It's exciting to see an industry cluster form around the treatment of cancers, and we welcome Vycellix to the area," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. Thanks to Moffitt, he said Tampa "continues to grow as a hub for life science and biotech companies."

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Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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