Deal-Making

Adios AveXis: Novartis embeds $8.7bn acquisition into gene therapy rebrand

Gene therapy developer AveXis will be known as Novartis Gene Therapies, more than two years after being acquired by the Swiss biopharma giant. In May 2018, Novartis spent $8.7 billion to acquire gene therapy technology and therapy developer AveXis. Since then, Novartis has supported the commercialization of its spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) single-dose therapy Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec), while investing heavily into the bolt-ons manufacturing capabilities. In February, AveXis/Novartis opened a $115 million gene therapy production plant in Durham, North Carolina.…

Astrea buys filtration firm ELS and hints at more acquisitions

Astrea Bioseparations has acquired Essential Life Solutions (ELS) adding a chromatography column portfolio and operations in the US. The deal, financial details of which have not been divulged, closed last week bringing Astrea the SNAP brand of chromatography column products for research and small-scale purification of biological products. “SNAP columns are high precision, glass columns used with HPLC/FPLC systems for development of purification processes and lab scale chromatography,” Astrea told this publication. The range will complement Astrea’s bioprocess offering, which…

Cryoport strikes second acquisition in a week with $320m MVE buy

The addition of cryogenic freezer systems firm MVE Biological Solutions will boost Cryoport’s position in the temperature-controlled cell and gene therapy logistics space. Cryoport, a temperature-controlled supply chain services firm for the life sciences, has agree to buy MVE Biological Systems for $320 million with the deal expected to close by the end of the year. MVE is a subsidiary of Chart Industries and will bring Cryoport a greater presence in the cell and gene therapy services space, broadening its…

CDMO deals and investments from AGC, Avid, and Fujifilm

New deals inked by AGC Biologics, Avid Bioservices, and Therapure, while Fujifilm breaks ground in Texas. Welcome to Friday’s CDMO round-up. AGC Biologics has been contracted by Japan’s Ono Pharmaceutical for the manufacture of clinical materials. Details are scant but the agreement marks the latest deal announced by the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) in recent months. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, AGC has been named as one of the manufacturers of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373; recently said…

Charles River boosts cell therapy offering with $38m Cellero buy

The addition of cellular product supplier Cellero will complement last year’s acquisition of HemaCare says Charles River Laboratories. In December 2019, contract research organization (CRO) Charles River Laboratories expanded its services into the cell therapy space through the $380 million acquisition of HemaCare. The deal brought Charles River human primary cells as well as a core offering of leukapheresis – the separation of white cells from blood samples. Fresh from the purchase, Charles River said it was eyeing up further…

Ligand strikes $516m deal to buy Pfenex for expression tech

Ligand Pharmaceutical will buy Pfenex to add the latter’s protein expression technology to its core drug discovery and formulation business. The deal – worth $516 million – is expected to complete before the end of the year. Ligand cited Pfenex’s expression technology as a major motivation for the deal, pointing out it is out-licensed for numerous commercial and development-stage programs. CEO John Higgins likened the deal to Ligand’s acquisition of the technology Captisol – gained when the firm bought Cydex…

AbbVie ends vectorized antibody accord with Voyager

AbbVie has ended its Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease collaborations with Voyager Therapeutics. Voyager announced the termination of its tau and alpha-synuclein “vectorized” antibody development accords this week, explaining it retains full rights to the candidates and the vectorization technology on which they are based. Voyage spokesman Paul Cox told us “AbbVie exercised its right to terminate for convenience in accordance with the terms of the agreements,” citing the firm’s 8 K Filing. The tau and alpha-synuclein research collaborations were formed…

Base editing firm Beam licenses Oxford Biomedica’s vector tech

Beam Therapeutics has licensed use of Oxford Biomedica’s Lentivector platform for the development of CAR-T therapies. Under the deal Beam can use the platform – a lentiviral based gene delivery system – for its cancer cell therapy programs. Oxford will also supply Beam with vectors for use in clinical trials for three years. Beam paid Oxford an undisclosed fee and has agreed to make further payments for vector supply. The UK firm will also receive royalties from the sale of…

Forge Bio’s combo model for gene therapies attracts $40m in funding

Forge Biologics has something rare for most early-stage biotech startups: revenue from customers. Now it has $40 million to expand its model, which places contract manufacturing alongside the development of its own gene therapies, the most advanced of which is being readied for tests in humans. From operations in Columbus, Ohio, Forge makes gene therapies for other companies. The company was initially conceived solely as a contract manufacturer, CEO Tim Miller told Xconomy. The explosion of gene therapy research is…

GSK gains 10% stake in mRNA vaccine developer Curevac in manufacturing deal

GSK and Curevac have signed an mRNA vaccine and monoclonal antibody drug manufacturing and commercialization agreement. The agreement will combine Curevac’s mRNA technology and manufacturing capabilities with GSK’s vaccines knowhow, self-amplifying mRNA (SAM) vaccine technology platform as well as its monoclonal antibody development and production capacity. The collaboration will focus on five mRNA-based vaccines and mAbs targeting infectious diseases. GSK has agreed to pay €120 million upfront and make an equity investment of €150 million in Curevac. The programs do…