Deal-Making

Viral vector vaccines and a nucleotide: Merck enters the COVID game

A triumvirate of deals, including the acquisition of a firm that uses the measles virus as a carrier for vaccines, sees Merck & Co. jumpstart its COVID-19 efforts. The first of the three announcements – which all came on the same day – will see Merck & Co. acquire vaccine developer Themis. The private Austrian firm is already working with Merck to develop vaccine candidates using its viral vector platform. The technology, developed at the Institut Pasteur and licensed to…

Cytiva to help Takara gear up for COVID-19 vaccine production

Cytiva will help Japan’s Takara Bio prepare manufacturing processes for a DNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate. Cytiva announced the collaboration this week, explaining it will work with Takara and partners Osaka University and AnGes to develop production processes and technology for the vaccine. Stephane Perrey, general manager for Cytiva in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, told us “Cytiva is providing process design consultation, prioritization of equipment manufacturing and prioritization of consumables manufacturing. “We worked closely with Takara Bio to help them…

Aragen and Avid team to offer combined development and manufacturing services

The collaboration offers customers an end-to-end service incorporating cell line development from Aragen Bioscience with process development and manufacturing from Avid Bioservices. Contract research organization (CRO) Aragen has teamed with contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Avid to provide biopharma customers a package from early cell line development through to cGMP manufacturing. “Many of our prospect customers are requesting expedited timelines to GLP-Tox pilot batch and cGMP drug substance deliveries for their early stage programs,” an Avid spokesperson told Bioprocess…

Emergent buoyed by COVID-19 related CDMO business in Q1

Emergent Biosolutions says higher demand for CDMO services for COVID-19 related products helped it in the first quarter. Emergent total saw revenues of $192.5 million in Q1, a slight increase over 2019. The firm said total revenues reflect a decline in product sales partially offset by an increase in CDMO and contracts and grants revenues. The firm also maintained its full year guidance – revenues of $1.175 billion to $1.275 billion and net income in the $169 million to $210…

AstraZeneca teams with Oxford University, enters COVID-19 vaccine race

AstraZeneca plans to leverage its global network to support production of an adenovirus vaccine vector (AAV) currently in Phase I trials against COVID-19. Based on an adenovirus vaccine vector (AAV) and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 entered clinical trials in Oxford, UK last week. Developed by the Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group, at the University of Oxford, trial material has been produced by the Clinical BioManufacturing Facility (CBF) for the Nuffield Department of Medicine and speaking…

Catalent to provide large-scale fill/finish for J&J coronavirus vaccine project

Catalent, the latest CDMO to support Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, will carry out aseptic vial filling and packaging from its site in Bloomington, Indiana. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) began working on its vaccine strategy to combat COVID-19 – caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) – in early January, identifying last month a lead candidate and two backups based on Janssen’s AdVac viral vector and PER.C6 cell line technology. As the programs move towards the clinic, J&J has been…

Pierre Fabre offloading MAb plant as it moves away from contract manufacturing

French drugmaker Pierre Fabre says contract manufacturing is not a priority as it looks to sell two facilities to CDMO Fareva. The two facilities Pierre Fabre is hoping to offload are an oncology injectable plant in Pau, and a monoclonal antibody production plant in Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, both in France. Both have been making products for others. Pierre Fabre focus is not on being a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), said spokesperson Valérie Roucoules and so the decision to sell the…

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…

Evotec extends Takeda pact to gene therapy

Evotec is building a gene therapy R&D center manned by ex-Takeda scientists and has already landed a multi-year drug discovery pact for it with their former Japanese employer. Evotec is expanding into the field of gene therapy by building an R&D center in Austria using scientists previously employed by Takeda, whose first project will be a long-term research and discovery project with their former Japanese employer, exploring oncology, rare diseases, neuroscience and gastroenterology. The entry by the German discovery alliance and…

Sanofi and GSK will use Flublok and AS03 tech to make coronavirus vaccine

Sanofi is aiming to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses of the coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) vaccine it is working on with GSK and BARDA and is targeting a late 2021 launch. Sanofi and GSK announced the deal on Tuesday, explaining they signed a letter of intent and a materials transfer agreement to assess the technical path to develop and produce a COVID-19 pandemic vaccine. Sanofi spokeswoman Marion Breyer said “Our goal is to initiate Phase I clinical trials in the second…