Novartis bids to buy its French CAR-T CDMO

Novartis has made an offer to buy its manufacturing partner CELLforCURE. If accepted, Novartis will add a facility in Les Ulis, France to its CAR-T network.

Novartis announced it was working with CELLforCURE in July, transferring its chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell production technology to the French contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) from its site in Morris Plain, New Jersey.

Less than six months on, the Swiss pharma giant has made an offer to buy “the share capital of CellforCure from LFB including the cell and gene manufacturing facility located in Les Ulis and the related adjacent land.”

When contacted by BioProcess Insider, Novartis did not disclose financial details. However, a spokesperson said the offer forms part of Novartis’ strategy to grow its CAR-T capabilities.

“We view CAR-T as strategically important for our future growth and we believe strong CAR-T manufacturing capabilities will be a strong source of competitive advantage for us in the years to come.”

If accepted, the addition of the 3600 m2 facility – approved by the French regulatory agency (ANSM) for the handling and manufacturing of GMO gene therapy products – will bolster Novartis’s growing cell and gene production network and support its breakthrough product Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel).

On top of the Morris Plains facility, the firm is constructing a plant in Stein, Switzerland with phased investments of CHF 92 million ($91 million) intended over the next few.

Meanwhile in October, Novartis bought a 9% stake in Cellular Biomedicine Group (CBMG), a Shanghai-based firm that will manufacture Kymriah for the China market.

“The proposed acquisition of CELLforCURE is another strategic step in our pursuit of additional manufacturing capacity to make our transformational CAR-T cell therapy Kymriah available to more patients in need around the world,” said Novartis global head of Technical Operations, Steffen Lang.

“If completed, this acquisition also would potentially increase manufacturing capacity for other cell and gene therapies in the Novartis pipeline.”

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