Cognate buys Cobra to boost gene therapy CDMO capabilities

Cell therapy CDMO Cognate Bioservices will add plasmid DNA and viral vector capabilities through the acquisition of Swedish manufacturer Cobra Biologics.

Memphis, Tennessee-based contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Cognate has entered into an agreement to acquire Cobra for an undisclosed fee, led by existing Cognate investor EW Healthcare Partners.

The deal adds to Cognate’s presence in the regenerative medicine space by bringing on board plasmid DNA and viral vector manufacturing capacity and expertise, complementing its own autologous and allogeneic cell-based and cell-mediated gene therapy capabilities.

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According to Cognate, the deal will create a fully integrated cell and gene therapy CDMO providing more scalable solutions to its clients.

“This acquisition is central to Cognate’s strategy to build on its existing offerings and create an enterprise platform for life cycle management of cell and gene therapy products, accelerating the availability of new technologies to patients that need them most,” said Cognate CEO J. Kelly Ganjei.

“The combined Cognate-Cobra expertise, infrastructure, and geographical footprint immediately positions both businesses to better respond to current and future market needs more quickly, effectively, and comprehensively.”

The transaction is subject to receipt of approval for the US authorities under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

Peter Coleman, CEO of Cobra Biologics, told Bioprocess Insider the two companies will operate as different business units and he will continue to be involved with Cobra following the acquisition.

“There will be elements of integration, in particular linking the technical capabilities together, but the intention is to operate as two separate business units each with its own specialization and track record.”

Cognate operates an 80,000 square-foot site in Memphis, originally built in 2017 for autologous cell therapy manufacturing but now produces various cell types for customers’ clinical projects. “Our largest phase of clinical grade production was an autologous product for phase III clinical trials, mostly manufactured in Memphis with products shipped to more than 80 clinical sites in four countries,” the company states.

Cobra brings to the table two GMP approved facilities: an advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP) production site in northwest UK offering DNA and viral vector services, and an ATMP production site in Matfors, Sweden offering DNA and microbiota services.

Last month, Cobra inked a deal to manufacture the adeno-associated viral vector (AAV) for Nordic gene therapy company Combigene’s epilepsy candidate CG01 from its facility in the UK.

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