MilliporeSigma and Thermo contribute to Biolife’s ‘blowout’ Q1

Distributors STEMCELL Technologies and VWR also cited as sales of Biolife Solutions’s bio-preservation media and automated thawing products increased 51% year-on-year.

For the first quarter 2019, Biolife, which makes and supplies biopreservation media and automated cell thawing media devices for cell and gene therapies, reported record revenues of $5.8 million (€5.2 million).

“Dead cells don’t cure cancer, and the combined therapeutic, and economic risks our customers are facing should broaden use of our products as a best practice in the manufacture, storage, distribution and administration of time and temperature sensitive cell and gene therapies,” CEO Mike Rice on a conference call.

Image: iStock/jurgenfr

Therefore, Biolife has seen demand for its media and services grow, among direct customers and distributors.

The latter saw “a blowout quarter with 200% growth over Q1 last year,” said Rice.

“The growth was driven by across the board substantial increases from STEMCELL Technologies, MilliporeSigma, Thermo Fisher and VWR [International],” he added. “In Q1, we shipped nearly 300 orders from these four distributors and continue to see their reach in capturing early stage cell and gene therapy customers.”

One area where these firms have helped Biolife is in the Asian market, which Biolife serves through distributors. “They all have reasonable presence. Many have significant feet in the street, and sellers, and distribution and other infrastructure over there.”

Direct line

Meanwhile, Biolife has consistently adding direct customers as interest in the cell and gene therapy space grows. The quarter itself saw Biolife adding 19 new direct cell and gene therapy clients, including Beam Therapeutics, InCarda Therapeutics and CELLforCURE (acquired by Novartis).

The firm is also seeing strong demand from cell and gene therapy contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs), including WuXi, Lonza, Hitachi, ApCeth, Miltenyi, KBI and Cognate.

“I’m pleased to report that product adoption in the cell and gene therapy market is increasing and we’re now supporting at least 500 customers in the space,” said Rice.

Astero acquisition

Rice also commented on the $8 million acquisition of Astero Bio Corporation – a firm focused on the design, development and commercialization of automated thawing devices – completed last month.

“Integration has gone very smoothly. We’ve already seen benefits from cross-marketing and weaving the automated thaw product story into our discussions with our media customers and prospects. We’ve booked several orders so far this quarter and see strong product demand, so far to support our guidance of $1 million to $2 million in thawing device product revenue in 2019.”

“We have an integrated marketing plan under way that includes email outreach, conference exhibits and presentations, and an expansion of the field sales team to capture a significant share of this market.”