How has Gene Therapy grown in the Pharma industry?

In the last two years, we’ve seen a 50% increase of jobs within the Gene Therapy manufacturing industry, which is leading to a promising job market. However, we’re still seeing a skill shortage in Quality Assurance. So what is the reason for this? Saerah Khan explains how pharmaceutical companies are competing for the same talent pool, and why it’s the best time to be working in this industry. 

What is Gene Therapy

As experts in the industry will be aware, gene therapy is where DNA is implanted into a patient, to treat a genetic disease. The new DNA usually contains a functioning gene to correct the effects of a disease-causing mutation. 
The nature of cell and gene therapies means that Quality Assurance roles can be more challenging than in chemical based pharmaceuticals. This can be because gene therapies also have strict time restraints that are not found in traditional drugs. Cell and gene therapies are made of living materials, which are highly sensitive and must be administered in a short space of time, whereas a chemical based drug can be stable over a long period of time. Many gene therapies have demonstrated impressive results in clinical trials, Saerah explains ‘Gene Therapy is proving to be one of the most exciting areas of Life Sciences to work in, last year over 25% of my placements where within this industry.’ 
As the concept of Gene Therapy is less than 50 years old, this is still a new and exciting area to work in, although we’ve seen a big skill shortage for permanent Quality Assurance professionals. This is because a lot of QPs only have experience in a chemical environment, and those who have Gene Therapy experience can demand higher rates as a contractor.

What has caused the growth in the industry?

The main cause of growth in the Gene Therapy space has come from commercial sponsors, private and public funding, mergers and acquisitions and spinout from academia. The main therapy areas that are rapidly developing are in Ophthalmology, Oncology and Rare and Infectious Diseases. With Biotech companies all competing for the same talent pool, Gene Therapy experience, especially in senior Quality Assurance, Quality Control, and Production positions, has become a very valuable skill set. The biggest challenge for Biotech companies is finding permanent staff with this experience. This can be due to the lengthy recruitment process or the three months training a lot of these positions will require. 

How can Real Staffing help support the Gene Therapy industry?

To help support Biotech companies struggling to find permanent professionals, Real Staffing’s Quality Assurance team specialise in sourcing the best contract candidates for these roles, whilst searching for permanent candidates. Given the nature of the industry, contract professionals provide the perfect solution to keeping the manufacturing process in place. We’ve seen this solution adapted by many Biotechs who have their own pipeline of manufacturing vectors, as well as ATMP manufacturing units within the NHS. Over a quarter of Saerah’s placements in 2018 were for Quality Assurance contractors who specialised in AAV, IMP and ATMP manufacturing. 

Get in touch with Saerah about how she can help with your needs in Gene Therapy, or if you’re a new candidate looking for your next opportunity in this space, view our current Quality Assurance vacancies here.


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