Wacker acquires plasmid DNA manufacturer Genopis for $39m

The German chemical company Wacker takes over Genopis from Helixmith, adding plasmid DNA to its CDMO offering.

In 2018, Helixmith (formerly ViroMed) and private equity firm, Medivate Partners created Genopis. Wacker paid $39 million in cash for Genopis with the potential for further payment depending on performance-based payments under a so-called earn-out model. The deal is expected to close in Q1, 2021.

Wacker will continue Genopis’ current customer relationships as a contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) for plasmid DNA (pDNA).

Image/iStock: Zhanna Hapanovich

Wacker will also gain around 40 members of staff with experience in the production of pDNA. A spokesman for Wacker told BioProcess Insider: “There are no plans for any changes (e.g. layoffs) in terms of personnel.”

He added “This strategic acquisition is a key step in our ongoing expansion in the high-growth biopharmaceuticals market.”

Genopis boasts a specialized 500 L capacity fermentation line to manufacture and purify pDNA. It also has small-scale fermentation and downstream processing facilities that are currently under construction at its site in San Diego, California.

pDNA gene therapy

pDNA can be used for nucleic acid-based gene therapies, vaccines and as a starting point for innovative therapeutic agents such as manufacturing mRNA.

Wacker, a manufacturer of therapeutic proteins, vaccines and live microbial products moves into the pDNA space and plans to partner with Korean biotech firm, Helixmith plan to partner on the production of a pDNA gene therapy candidate, VM202.

Helixmith developed VM202 to treat diabetic peripheral neuropathy and the candidate is currently in clinical trials.

“Once approved, Wacker and Helixmith intend to have Wacker, as a CDMO partner, manufacture VM202 for commercial market supply,” the firm told us. Adding “In the future, WACKER as a CDMO could also manufacture at the new San Diego site other pDNA products developed by Helixmith.”

Acquiring Genopis complements Wacker’s existing CDMO activities. “In recent months, we’ve invested in our Amsterdam site and made preparations to expand our production capabilities to include mRNA,” Wacker said.

“The acquisition of Genopis is a further logical step in providing our customers with optimal support in the development and production of nucleic acid-based activities and innovative forms of therapy.”

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