Deal-Making

Ensoma launches to deliver ‘off-the-shelf’ genomic medicine

Ensoma emerges with Series A funding and a collaboration deal with Takeda for its vector-delivered treatments. Ensoma was backed in its Series A financing by 5AM Ventures and Takeda, amongst other investors, with $70 million (€57 million). Takeda’s investment occurs alongside an exclusive worldwide license to develop Ensoma’s ‘Engenious’ vectors for up to five rare disease indications. The agreement includes a potential $100 million investment in upfront and preclinical research payments. Should the candidates progress past the preclinical stage, Ensoma…

IDT Biologika latest to join AstraZeneca in COVID-19 response

CDMO IDT Biologika will expand its site in Dessau, Germany through a joint investment with AstraZeneca to support the latter’s COVID-19 vaccine. AstraZeneca has signed a letter of intent with contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) IDT Biologika to help produce its COVID-19 vaccine, AZD1222. Details of the agreement are yet to be finalized, but production of the vaccine is expected to begin at IDT Biologika’s site in Dessau, Germany from the second quarter 2021. However, both companies plan to invest…

Charles River to reenter CDMO space in $875m Cognate buy

The proposed acquisition of Cognate BioServices will bring services firm Charles River Laboratories autologous and allogeneic cell therapy, plasmid DNA and viral vector manufacturing capabilities. The agreement announced yesterday will see Charles River pay $875 million in cash for the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO). Through the deal, Charles River has propelled itself into the manufacturing space, entering a lucrative cell therapy and plasmid production market. “The addressable market for Cognate’s CDMO services principally cell therapy and plasmid production…

Ins and outs: High level changes at Merck, Lilly and Editas

Kenneth Frazier will step down from his position as CEO of Merck & Co. and hand over to CFO Robert Davis. Meanwhile, there is high level changes following allegations of inappropriate behavior at Eli and Lilly. Frazier has been CEO of Merck & Co. (known as MSD outside North America) since 2011 and has worked at the firm for almost 30 years. Frazier reflected on the announcement during Merck’s Q4 financial report last week. “It has been a distinct honor…

CGT services round-up: News from Catalent, Thermo Fisher and Aruvant

Catalent signs agreement with Trizell, Thermo Fisher Scientific partners with JW Therapeutics and Aruvant chooses Lonza to manufacture a sickle cell gene therapy. Lovely to have you here for BioProcess Insider’s CGT services round-up. First up in our cell and gene therapy (CGT) services round-up is Catalent, which recently confirmed an agreement with Trizell to support the manufacturing of Trizell’s Phase I therapy to treat micro and macroangiopathies. The firm’s therapeutic is an advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP) which uses…

Gilead Sciences partner with Gritstone for potential HIV cure

Gilead has partnered with Gritstone to develop an HIV-specific therapeutic vaccine in a deal worth up to $725 million.  Gilead will pay $60 million when the deal closes, but could pay Gritstone up to $725 million if the option is exercised and commercial, clinical and regulatory milestones are achieved.   “Gilead and Gritstone are partnering together to test the ability of Gritstone’s vaccine platform to stimulate T cell (immune) responses against HIV,” a spokesperson for Gilead told BioProcess Insider. “This approach may have the…

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).…

Merck partners with Artiva to develop off-the-shelf CAR-NK therapies

Merck & Co. has paid Artiva Biotherapeutics $30 million to develop up to three off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapies. On top of the $30 million Artiva has received for the first two programs, an additional $15 million will be paid by Merck (known as MSD outside of North America) if they decide to opt for a third program. Artiva has the potential to receive up to $612 million per program depending on future development, commercial milestones and global sales of the…

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…

Filling in its drug product offering: Cytiva buys Vanrx Pharmasystems

Cytiva’s first acquisition since being acquired by Danaher sees it add robotic aseptic filling machines to its bioprocess offering. Vanrx Pharmasystems, and all 120 staff, will be incorporated into Cytiva, after the bioprocess vendor acquired the Canadian company for an undisclosed fee. Vanrx makes standardized aseptic filling technologies for filling vials, syringes, and cartridges, including its SA25 range of aseptic and lyophilized technologies, and the Microcell Vial Filler – a closed robotic isolator for pharmaceutical vial filling. “For now, this…