Just-Evotec Biologics expands COVID-19 contract with DOD

Just-Evotec Biologics has entered an agreement worth $28.6 million with the Department of Defense to manufacture monoclonal antibodies for the development of anti-SARS-CoV-2.

The collaboration started in July 2020 and resulted in rapid process development and manufacturing of mAbs against COVID-19.

To meet the expanded contract obligations, the firm will use its J.POD facility in Redmond, Washington – 15 miles east of Seattle – to manufacture SARS-CoV-2 mAbs as a potential treatment for COVID-19. The firm has said it will also potentially develop a prophylaxis.

Image: iStock/Cristian Storto Fotografia

Under the continued agreement, the Department of Defense (DOD) will have priority access to Just-Evotec biomanufacturing capacity for seven years. However, Just-Evotec could not provide an expected timeline to produce monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and/or prophylaxis for COVID-19.

“The DOD antibodies have been in production at our pilot facility in Seattle and this work will continue this year and beyond, moving from our pilot facility to our J.POD facility in Redmond” a spokesperson told BioProcess Insider.

Rapid expansion

In 2019, German R&D firm Evotec acquired Just for $90 million, gaining a manufacturing design platform named J.DESIGN, a lab tool for development of a-high yielding manufacturing process called JP3 and a cGMP manufacturing platform called J.POD.

Just six months after Evotec acquired Just.Bio, the firm planned to build its first US-based commercial biologics modular facility in Seattle and construct the first modular J.POD for commercial manufacturing.

“This cGMP biologics production facility will initially have two production trains come online later this year,” Just told us. “The flexible facility design and the continuous manufacturing platform employed allows for rapid expansion, up to 6 production trains, to accommodate the future needs of our other partners.”

Last year, Just confirmed Merck & Co. (known as MSD outside of North America) reserved capacity at its J.POD site for $15 million to produce biologics including recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies.

Just said “We have been in the process of building a J.POD manufacturing facility in Redmond for over a year now. We will start up the facility and do some work for the DOD there in the second half of the year.”

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