BioProcess Insider Interviews Julien Meissonnier

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For the on-demand virtual BPI Theater at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s annual convention, BioProcess Insider founding editor Dan Stanton conducted a series of interviews to discuss trends in biomanufacturing. Here, we summarize his conversations with Julien Meissonnier, vice president and chief scientific officer at Catalent Biologics.

Contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) have scrambled lately to gain cell and gene therapy capabilities. That includes Catalent Biologics, which last year acquired Paragon Bioservices and MaSTherCell. Paragon offers expertise in manufacture of adenoassociated virus (AAV) vectors for gene therapies. MaSTherCell, a cell-therapy technology supplier, brings to the table development and manufacturing experience with natural killer (NK) cells, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, and other emerging modalities.

Meissonnier understood the vogue for cell and gene therapy (CGT) mergers and acquisitions (M&A). He remarked that the field is exciting because it enables the production of cures, not just treatments. But regardless of M&A trends, Catalent had planned for some time to enter the CGT industry, with the ambition of providing end-to-end, integrated solutions. Paragon and MaSTherCell fit well into that plan and into Catalent’s larger mission: “We promise to get manufacturing technologies to scale and to bring new treatments to the market. So, we must continue to evolve our technologies independently of what happens in other CDMO markets.”

That has compelled Catalent to change how and when it forges partnerships. Meissonnier reflected that a decade ago, academic researchers often handed off their molecules after phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. But CGTs require complex analytical characterization and bridging studies between laboratory and clinical-production scales. Thus, Catalent has made moves into the early development space with acquisitions of Pharmatech and Juniper Pharmaceuticals. The CDMO also has partnered with CGT developers earlier and more closely than it had for traditional biologics.

Meissonnier observed that the life-science community’s collective response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has affirmed the importance of close, early collaboration among industry players, especially in the CGT sector. The pandemic, as he put it, “might even set a new standard for collaboration and innovation.”

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