Alector inks strategic deal with Lonza for early-phase candidates

The changing needs of biopharma have driven some customers towards more strategic development and manufacturing partnerships says Lonza, which has inked such a deal with Alector.

The agreement, financials of which have not been divulged, sees biotech Alector secure manufacturing capacity for two of its Phase I neurodegeneration drug candidates at contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Lonza’s site in Visp, Switzerland. Alector has seven immuno-neurology candidates in development.

The deal makes use of Lonza’s Ibex Solutions service, launched in July 2017. The service looks to provide flexible production capacity for biotherapeutics at a biopark consisting of five buildings at the Swiss site, and according to Lonza offers firms like Alector alternatives to the usual manufacturing contracts.

Image: Visp, Switzerland c/o Lonza

“We set up Ibex Solutions as an alternative model to ‘traditional’ outsourcing to reflect the changing needs of customers – essentially pharma and biotech companies are dealing with accelerated timelines, the difficulty of forecasting supply and the need to balance expenditure with risk,” Karen Fallen, head of mammalian and microbial development and manufacturing, Lonza Pharma & Biotech, told Bioprocess Insider.

Last September, the CDMO invested a further CHF 400 million ($393 million) into expanding the Ibex program. The offering now included distinct Design and Develop packages intended to take customers from pre-clinical to commercial launch.

“Alector, for example are currently in Phase I with two candidates but may need to rapidly scale either molecule up or down depending on their results,” Fallen said.

“Ibex Solutions complements the more traditional offerings – we still have customers who come for a specific service or technology – but there are more companies looking for an end-to-end solution that gives them everything is at the same site, with the same team.”

The Ibex Design and Develop offerings were set up with smaller biotech firms in mind,” she added.

“These companies tend to be smaller, without huge in-house teams or assets and are often tied to precise funding milestones. The packages we offer are designed to be in sync with their journey, with the security and clarity that they need as they take a drug to market.”