Evotec eyes US commercial biomanufacturing pod

Months after buying platform firm Just.Bio, Evotec says it is evaluating the construction of the first modular J.POD for commercial manufacturing later this year.

In May, German R&D services firm Evotec launched itself into the large molecule space through the $90 million (€81 million) acquisition of Just.Bio.

The deal added several platform technologies aimed at reducing the cost of goods for proteins, including a large molecule manufacturing design platform, known as J.DESIGN and JP3, a lab and computational tool for rapid development of a high-yielding manufacturing process along with a cGMP early clinical manufacturing facility.

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But it also gave Evotec access to Just.Bio’s flexible and modular manufacturing platform for production of clinical and commercial stage biologics called J.POD.

Speaking on the firm’s second quarter 2019 call, Evotec management said it is now looking to expand the J.POD platform.

“We are actually evaluating the construction of the first J.POD for commercial manufacture in the United States during the course of 2019,” chief operating officer Craig Johnstone told stakeholders.

“This would be to take this flexible modality manufacture paradigm and take it into a commercial scale and a commercial facility. And we’re evaluating that right now, particularly in the first instance in the United States to capitalize on the skills and the know-how of the [former Just] people in Seattle.”

One-stop-shop

Just.Bio was set up with an aim to slash the cost of goods for proteins by using platforms to address every area in the development and manufacture of biological products. Previously, founding partner Dean Pettit has said the technologies could drive prices down from around $150-200 to as little as $10 per gram.

Evotec said the firm wants to “expand and accelerate” everything that Just has started and Johnstone said commercial manufacture is necessary to provide a one-stop-shop operation “many partners would wish for.”

“The trick with Just is to compress and increase the yield from a unit volume of manufacturer for biologics. And to succeed in that it requires engineering of every step of the process, not just in the manufacture but even in the selection of antibodies for manufacture, which is why they are also engaged in design selection of antibodies, which are then more suitable for high-compression manufacture.”

The Just technology, he continued, has been able to produce kilograms of material through 500 and 1,000 liter disposable vessels.

“And there are various transformations both upstream of the vessel and downstream of the vessel that enable that kind of productivity in terms of masses of material of what is effectively quite a small capacity vessel for production.”

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