iBio is looking to divest its CDMO services in order to transform into an antibody discovery and development firm.
Artificial intelligence (AI) precision antibody firm iBio has said that it is seeking to divest its contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) so it can restructure into an antibody discovery and development company, which will result in 50% annualized cost savings.
On the back of this transition, the firm hopes to invest in a pipeline of immune-oncology assets and an AI-based drug discovery platform.
To fund this, iBio has its CDMO assets up for sale, including its 130,000 square-foot biologics manufacturing plant in Bryan, Texas, which has the capabilities for a wide range of large-scale bioproduction systems.
n January 2020 the CDMO asked EdgePoint AI to install AI technologies at its Bryan plant.
Additionally, the cost-savings will be used to continue development of AI platform, RubrYc, which the firm acquired as an asset in September from RubrYc Therapeutics. According to iBio, the discovery engine is what has been used to create a large proportion of its therapeutic candidates.
“We currently possess valuable assets in both biomanufacturing and biotech,” said Tom Isett, CEO of iBio.
“We believe focusing our efforts on drug discovery and development to be the path to greatest value-creation for shareholders, especially given the recent addition of RubrYc Therapeutics’ pipeline and tools to engineer precision-targeting antibodies. Concurrently, given the strong demand for biomanufacturing capacity, we are providing the opportunity for another organization to more fully utilize the advanced bioanalytical and bioprocess capacity resident in our large-scale cGMP biologics production facility located in the growing Southeast Texas ‘Biocorridor’”.
The company claims that divesture of its CDMO business is expected to be complete in 2023 and that in the meantime it will continue to advance its preclinical program, pipeline, and partnership opportunities. However, there is no specific assurance as to when, or for how much, iBio will be able to sell its CDMO assets.
60% staff reduction
The divestment means that iBio will have to significantly reduce its current company staffing levels, with a specific focus on the employees located at its Bryan, Texas facility. According to the firm, after the workforce reduction of 60% has taken place, the remaining staff members will operate out of a drug discovery site located in San Diego, California.
“While parting with members of our ‘WeBio’ team will be incredibly difficult, we do so with the knowledge that demand for their talents in the Texas Biocorridor area is high,” said Michael Jenkins, iBio’s vice president of operations.
“On behalf of the CDMO site leadership team, we thank our colleagues who have invested so much in our Bryan/College Station facility – and whose dedication to our mission has helped build the company and developed iBio’s proprietary FastPharming Expression System and Glycaneering Technology.”