Santa Monica biotech firm Kite Pharma Inc. has signed a lease for a commercial manufacturing facility in El Segundo near Los Angeles International Airport.

The company plans to use the 44,500-square-foot space along with another recently leased clinical manufacturing facility in Santa Monica to support clinical trials and prepare Kite for the commercial launch and supply of its lead drug candidate, KTE-C19, anticipated in 2017.

The firm is working on therapies that extract a cancer patient’s immune system cells and engineer them to recognize cancer. The cells are then grown in the lab and released back into the patient’s body, better equipped to find their targets.

“We are initiating pivotal studies for KTE-C19 in multiple indications and believe our new facilities will help ensure the timely completion of these studies as well as our commercial launch,” said Kite Chief Executive Arie Belldegrun in a statement.

The El Segundo building is located at 2355 Utah Avenue in a creative office campus owned by NSB Associates Inc. Under the lease agreement, Kite has an option to take another 17,000 square feet in the form of an addition that would have to be built.

“If we continue to grow we’ll be able to add some more manufacturing,” said broker Andrew Riley of CBRE Group Inc., who along with Jeff Pion represented Kite during lease negotiations. “Break down a wall and, boom, you have a 60,000-square-foot building.”

Along with clinical manufacturing, the recently leased 18,000-square-foot facility in Santa Monica will also provide space for research and development and offices. Kite will still maintain its company headquarters at 2225 Colorado Ave. in Santa Monica.

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