Oxford Biomedica enters US through $180m Homology JV

The UK-based gene therapy services firm and Homology Medicines will establish an adeno-associated virus (AAV) manufacturing and innovation joint venture.

The deal, expected to close in the next few weeks, will see Oxford Biomedica pay biotech Homology $130 million upfront and invest $50 million in the new entity, ‘Oxford Biomedica Solutions.’ The UK-based gene therapy firm and contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) will take an 80% stake in the entity, while Homology will own 20% of the company.

The new entity will offer cell and gene therapy developers AAV and lentiviral-based manufacturing and development services via Homology’s GMP manufacturing capabilities in Massachusetts, which boasts 3,500 L of active capacity.

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This include a ’plug and play’ model the company claims can deliver both high titer and high-level vector quality and has been proven scalable at a 2,000 L bioreactor with a HEK293 suspension system.

“Accessing Homology Medicines’ unique AAV capabilities is a major advancement in Oxford Biomedica’s goal to become an innovative global viral vector leader that provides solutions to Cell and Gene Therapy Biotech and Biopharma companies for their process development and manufacturing needs across key viral vectors,” Roch Doliveux, CEO of Oxford Biomedica said in a statement.

“Process Development/CMC being one of the most important critical success factors to ensure efficacy, safety and affordability of C&GT, Oxford Biomedica is in a strong position to enable our customers to bring their new medicines to many more patients and change their lives.”

The new entity will also incorporate Oxford Biomedica’s viral vector heritage – the firm provides viral vectors for Novartis’s Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel), has inked a supply deal with Boehringer Ingelheim, and has manufactured AstraZenca’s adenovirus vector-based COVID-19 vaccine since May 2020 – and will support Homology Medicines’ own gene therapy pipeline.

It will also provide Oxford Biomedica with a US base, which Doliveux said “brings us closer to customers, talent, innovation in academia and pools of capital all of which will allow growth and building a market leadership position.”

The news comes four months after the Oxford-based firm received £50 million ($68 million) of investment from Indian vaccine giant Serum Institute of India, though those funds have been earmarked to add 39,000 square feet of advanced manufacturing space at its Oxbox site in the UK.