Deal-Making

Novavax says COVID $1.6bn funding helps secure US-based supply chain

The ‘Operation Warp Speed’ $1.6 billion funding boost will help support the large-scale manufacture of COVID-19 vaccine candidate NVX‑CoV2373, says Novavax. Novavax has become the beneficiary of the largest funding by Operation Warp Speed – the US government’s response to the expedite vaccines and therapeutics against the novel coronavirus – to date, receiving $1.6 billion it says will be used to aid clinical development and secure manufacturing for NVX‑CoV2373. “In addition to establishing scale-up manufacturing capacity to deliver 100 million…

Rentschler and Vetter team to take on rising drug cost and complexity

CDMOs Rentschler Biopharma and Vetter say demand for lower cost, more streamlined manufacturing services prompted partnership. The Germany-based contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) announced the formation of a strategic alliance on Monday. The idea is to offer customers Rentschler’s drug substance manufacturing capacity in combination with Vetter’s aseptic fill and finish and secondary packaging services. Rentschler spokeswoman Cora Kaiser cited market dynamics as the driver for the collaboration, explaining “Drug development is growing increasingly complex and cost intensive. Biopharmaceutical…

Instant caRNA? Tesla touts RNA bioreactor it is developing with Curevac

Curevac and car maker Tesla claim their development RNA production tech is less labour intensive and more deployable than alternatives. The technology – described as a Bioreactor for RNA in vitro Transcription – allows the DNA templates from which the RNA is produced to be used multiple times. It is also automated, which Curevac and Tesla say will minimize handling steps and make manufacturing processes more robust. The firms contrast their technology with current systems, which involve “many separate manufacturing…

CSL Behring strengthens gene therapy ambition in $450m deal

UniQure will continue manufacturing hemophilia gene therapy candidate AMT-061 after selling the licensing rights to CSL Behring. CSL Behring has paid uniQure $450 million for the global rights to commercialize the adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy candidate AMT-061 (etranacogene dezaparvovec), in late stage studies for the treatment of hemophilia B. UniQure could be entitled to up to $1.6 billion depending on the progress of the candidate. The addition to CSL Behring supports the firm’s advanced therapy ambitions, according to company…

Sanofi pays Translate $425m to expand mRNA partnership

The deal expands upon a 2018 collaboration and comes as Translate Bio builds out its mRNA vaccine production facilities in Massachusetts. In 2018, French pharma giant Sanofi teamed up with Translate Bio to develop messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for up to five infectious disease pathogens for an initial three-year period. This week, the firms have announced the collaboration will be expanding. mRNA vaccines work by delivering a nucleotide sequence that codes for the proteins that pathogens use to cause disease.…

Nex-T up: Bristol-Myers using machine learning to optimize future CAR-T

Bristol-Myers Squibb says its next-generation CAR-T candidates, known as Nex-T, could offer faster and cheaper autologous cell therapies against multiple myeloma and lymphoma. Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) entered the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy space through the completion of its $74 billion acquisition of Celgene last November. Among the candidates BMS added to its pipeline were lisocabtagene maraleucel (liso-cel), an anti-CD19 targeting lymphoma, and idecabtagene vicleuce (ide-cel) being developed against multiple myeloma in partnership with Bluebird Bio, both in late-stage…

Emergent to add gene therapy capacity through $75m plant expansion

Emergent Biosolutions has set out to capture a share of the expanding viral vector and gene therapy sector. The US countermeasures developer said it will spend $75 million to add viral vector and gene therapy manufacturing capacity at a facility in Canton, Massachusetts. At present the plant – which was acquired from Sanofi in 2017 – produces drug substance for live viral vaccines, including Emergent’s smallpox jab ACAM2000. Emergent said the investment will establish a multi-suite production operation with 1,000…

Inhouse and out: AstraZeneca secures COVID-19 vaccine capacity

Contracts with CDMOs Catalent, Emergent Biosolutions, Cobra, and Novasep and the retrofitting of a facility in Ohio will support AstraZeneca and the Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate. AstraZeneca was among the second wave of Big Pharma firms to enter the rush to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 in April when it teamed with the Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford on its ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 program. Production of the vaccine…

Is Catalent set to make another major acquisition?

With CDMO Catalent set to raise around $550 million in a public offering, some commentators believe another large acquisition could be around the corner. Contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Catalent has announced the pricing of a public offering of shares of its common stock, expected to close next week resulting in proceeds of approximately $550 million. This is the third time in two years that the firm has tapped the public equity market. In July 2018, the CDMO announced…

COVID-19 round-up: Vaccine capacity M&A, deals and task orders

Emergent has received $628 million to support vaccine production; Novavax buys Czech Republic-based Praha Vaccines; Vaxart contracts Kindred Biosciences. Just another week in the fight against COVID-19. Emergent Biosolutions is working on several projects to support the development of COVID-19 vaccines but has been buoyed by a US government task order of $628 million to support rapid domestic production through 2021. The task order forms part of a contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the US Department…