Aton Bio: China pharma backed CDMO with a startup spirit

Aton Biotech hopes to make big waves in the bio-CDMO space by leveraging up to 144,000 L of bioreactor capacity from parent company Shanghai Henlius Biotech.

Henlius operates two biomanufacturing in Shanghai with a total of 48,000 L of bioreactor capacity, along with fully integrated drug substance and drug product capabilities.

The firm broke ground on a third 130,000 square meter facility last year, the first phase of which will incorporate 36,000 L of biomanufacturing capacity comprising of up to eighteen 2,000 L single-use systems. A second phase is set to add 60,000 L of stainless-steel capacity, or four 15,000 L tanks, to come online in 2026.

Henlius’ proposed third site, set to fully open and offer 96,000 L of bioreactor capacity in 2026.

With potentially 144,000 L of capacity and the experience of producing five of its own commercial products, Henlius recently launched Aton Biotech, a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) preliminary to serve the China market but with global ambitions.

“We are extremely energized and passionate to enable innovation to concept to market with quality and speed to become the CDMO of choice for the global biopharmaceutical industry,” chief business officer tells BioProcess Insider.

“We are a start-up in spirit but aim to be one of the most flexible partners, seasoned with clinical to commercial experience that stands us apart from so many CDMOs. With over five commercial products, over 450 commercial batches successfully being produced out of our site, and fully integrated drug substance and drug product capabilities, we are confident we can add tremendous value to our valued customers to leverage our experience for their success.”

24,000 L of Henlius’ first facility will be allocated to Aton for commercial orders at the end of 2024. “This enables us to reserve slots and secure capacity for all of our customers,” says Park.

The firm announced its first public deal last month, a long-term partnership with Hong Kong-listed biotech KangaBio for full CDMO services across its product pipeline including cell line development, cell bank construction and verification, process and analytical method development, clinical and commercial scale manufacturing, stability study and IND & NDA filing support.

“At Aton, we listen to our customers to understand their challenges to leverage our experience for a custom solution,” says Park. “We enable more products to market fast as possible to form a strategic partnership for successful outcome for our strategic partners.

Park’s career is illustrious within the CDMO space, with senior roles at firms including Samsung Biologics, Catalent, and – most recently – WuXi Advanced Therapies, part of WuXi AppTec, another China-headquartered CDMO with major global ambitions.

“The key lesson is truly about the customer and build a customer centric business model at its core,” Park says, reflecting on the industry as a whole. “Communication, cooperation, and transparency will strengthen the relationships to align expectations to overcome any roadblocks and challenges that could disrupt both operations and the partnership.”

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