Upstream & Downstream Processing

Rapid Micro Biosystems to fund EU facility construction with $120m fundraising

US sterility testing tech firm Rapid Micro Biosystems will build a European plant and expand its business with $120 million raised this week. The Lowell, Massachusetts firm – which makes automated microbial detection systems – completed a $120 million financing round this week, attracting equity investment from The Ally Bridge Group, Endeavour Vision, and existing investors including Asahi Kasei. CEO Robert Spignesi told Bioprocess Insider the firm’s “growth plan includes establishing new manufacturing capacity, beyond our current US manufacturing facility…

MilliporeSigma reports robust Q1 on back of COVID-19

Merck’s MilliporeSigma is the latest to report bioprocess resilience in the face of COVID-19, and like others has even seen an increase in sales and projects. MilliporeSigma, the life sciences division of Germany’s Merck, saw sales of €1.8 billion ($2 billion) in the first quarter of 2020, up 6.5% on the same period last year, fueled in part by its Process Solutions business unit, which saw sales grow organically by 13.2% (another example of double-digit growth in the biopharma equipment…

Greenlight raises $17m for mRNA vaccine capacity hike citing COVID-19 target

GreenLight Biosciences says a manufacturing expansion will allow it to make billions of doses of its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. The Boston biotech announced the expansion plan last week, explaining it will use $17 million raised in a recent funding round to build out its scalable mRNA production capability. GreenLight is developing several mRNA vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 disease. The aim is to establish “a scaled process under current good manufacturing practices (cGMP), capable of supporting…

Charles River: COVID forces closure of donor clinic disrupting HemaCare biz

Charles River says its cell therapy services business HemaCare is susceptible to the impact of COVID-19 and has already had to temporarily close its donor collections clinic. Charles River Laboratories acquired HemaCare for $380 million in December last year, bolstering its cell therapy services business. HemaCare provides human primary cells as well as services used in the discovery, development and commercial production of cell therapies, and provides leukapheresis services for materials used in the manufacture of Novartis’ Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel), Kite’s…

Univercells on balancing its bioprocess tech and CDMO subsidiaries

Univercells has launched a bioprocess technology subsidiary it says can offer a new generation of biomanufacturing platforms that can solve industry’s manufacturing challenges. It has been a busy few months for Belgium-based biologics platform firm Univercells. In February, global investment firm KKR – through its portfolio of life sciences tools companies Gamma Biosciences – committed €50 million ($54 million) into the firm Univercells. Then last month, the firm launched Exothera, a process development and viral vector contract development and manufacturing…

Fujifilm licenses AAV vector tech to speed gene therapy production

CDMO Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB) says partnering with OXGENE could reduce the lead time of its customers’ gene therapy projects by up to 25%. The technology, licensed from UK-based OXGENE for an undisclosed fee, consists of Helper, Rep/Cap and Gene of Interest plasmids, used in combination with a clonal suspension a HEK293 cell line. The AAV system is expected to reduce the length of the supply chain gene therapy customers, according to contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) FDB, with…

MicrofluidX to take on single-use tech with microfluidics for CGTs

MicrofluidX will use fundraising money to advance its cell bioprocessing technology, which uses microfluidics to tackle challenges associated with bioprocessing advanced therapies. The London, UK-based firm has raised £1.4 million ($1.7 million) in seed funding to advance its microfluidics-based technology, which aims to combat challenges associated with the production of cell and gene therapies (CGTs) such as cost of goods, batch variability, and scalability. “Cell and gene therapies have demonstrated significant therapeutic potential. However, these treatments are now at a…

Sartorius’ strong Q1 shows ‘defensiveness of bioprocess industry,’ analysts

Sartorius reported pronounced year-on-year increases in sales and orders for its first quarter 2020, indicating the opportunities for bioprocessing and the resilience of biopharma amid the coronavirus pandemic. For many businesses, the first quarter 2020 could be described as exceptional; at best subdued, but more realistically unsettling or even disastrous. Since January, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has led to systematic shutdowns and lockdowns, creating fiscal uncertainty and forcing many businesses to shut up shop. But for Sartorius Stedim Biotech, the…

Avectas attracts $20m to scale-up non-viral cell engineering tech

Avectas has secured funds needed to scale-up its cell engineering technology and expand its teams in the US and Ireland. Dublin-based Avectas attracted $20m of equity investment in a series C fundraising round completed on April 16. The firm plans to use the funds to scale up its Soluporation technology and to expand its commercial, regulatory and technical organization within Ireland and the US. CEO Michael Maguire told us “We will accelerate our translation and scale-up by engagement with external CDMOs and…

Novel R&D approaches and the need for flexibility make single-use key in tackling COVID-19

Manufacturers are unlikely to look to traditional stainless-steel systems when developing COVID-19 vaccines despite the very high doses potentially needed, says MilliporeSigma. The list of biopharma companies rapidly developing vaccines is growing in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Moderna Therapeutics has a messenger RNA (mRNA) in Phase I trials, Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ DNA vaccine entered human trials last week, while others including Novavax, which is developing a vaccine based on its recombinant protein nanoparticle platform, are racing towards the…