Business digest

C&I Issue 12, 2020

Read time: 7 mins

US biotechnology investment firm Aditum Bio has launched Tempero Bio, a portfolio company developing a neuroscience drug for treating substance use disorders and anxiety. Tempero Bio is being formed in partnership with Japanese biopharmaceutical company Sosei Heptares.

Japanese pharmaceuticals company Asahi Kasei Pharma has contracted German CDMO ProBioGen to advance its biologics pipeline. ProBioGen will use its proprietary technologies in cell line engineering, process development and GMP manufacturing as part of the service agreement.

The Malaysian JV between BASF and Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS) will close its butanediol and derivatives plant at Kuantan, Malaysia in March 2021. Other plants within the facility will not be affected and the company will continue to develop the BDO value chain. Meanwhile BASF’s agricultural solutions division is collaborating with Tecnalia, a European centre for research and technological development located in Spain. By analysing large amounts of data from BASF’s field trials, Tecnalia will improve its algorithms, which will allow BASF to optimise the efficiency of crop protection products and identify the most promising active ingredients.

Global life science and pharmaceuticals major Bayer has acquired a majority stake in New York-based online vitamin and supplement startup Care/of, which will join Bayer’s consumer health, North America portfolio.

US biotechnology company BioMarin Pharmaceutical, headquartered in San Rafael, CA, is collaborating with Deep Genomics, a genetic medicine company, to identify drug candidates in four rare disease areas. Deep Genomics will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and development milestone payments. BioMarin will receive an exclusive option to obtain Deep Genomics’ rights to each programme for development and commercialisation.

The Institute of Cancer Research has opened a £75m state-of-the-art Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery at its Sutton site.

German pharma major Boehringer Ingelheim is extending its collaboration with inmation Software, a global software developer based in Köln, Germany, for another five years. The partnership will develop software, which will enable process and production data to be acquired on a global basis in real-time.

BP and Danish renewable energy company Ørsted will work together to develop industrial-scale production of green hydrogen. The two firms intend to build an initial 50MW electrolyser and associated infrastructure at BP’s Lingen refinery in north-west Germany, which will be powered by renewable energy generated by an Ørsted offshore wind farm in the North Sea. The hydrogen produced will be used in the refinery. The plant is expected to be operational by 2024.

The partnership between French biotechnology company PathoQuest and Charles River Laboratories International, headquartered in Wilmington, MA, has established a US subsidiary, PathoQuest. The subsidiary will have a state-of-the-art next generation sequencing-based testing laboratory at Charles River’s site in Wayne, PA.

The UK Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), headquartered in Wilton, is building a technology and innovation centre in Renfrewshire, Scotland. The Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, which will focus on small molecule and pharmaceutical manufacturing, is a collaboration between CPI, the University of Strathclyde and founding industry partners, GSK and AstraZeneca, with funding provided by Scottish Enterprise and UK Research and Innovation.

UK speciality chemicals company Croda International has entered into an agreement with US pharma major Pfizer to supply four excipients used in the manufacture of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The agreement will run for five years.

Edinburgh headquartered CDMO RoslinCT will open an additional facility at Edinburgh BioQuarter in Q1 2021 that will more than double its capacity to deliver cell and gene therapies, enabling commercial scale.

Investment by US CDMO Cambrex, headquartered in East Rutherford, NJ, to expand its small molecule API manufacturing capacity in Charles City, Iowa. The expansion, which will increase the site’s capacity by 30%, will be operational in early 2022.
Upfront cash payment by US pharma major Eli Lilly to US biotechnology company Precision BioSciences to use Precision’s gene editing platform for the R&D of therapies for genetic disorders such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Precision will also receive an equity investment from Lilly of $35m and will be eligible to receive potential milestone payments up to $420m/product, as well as tiered royalties on sales of licensed products.
Paid by Danish multinational pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to acquire US drug delivery company Emisphere Technologies. Emisphere has proprietary technologies that enable oral formulations of a range of therapeutics.
Investment by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding agency to support five interdisciplinary research projects that aim to improve the understanding of the impacts of plastic pollution in developing countries. The programme’s five projects include partnerships with researchers across 11 countries, including China and India.
Paid by Pharmaron Beijing, a contract research and manufacturing organisation, to acquire US non-clinical CRO Absorption Systems with facilities and laboratories in Philadelphia, San Diego and Boston.

German biopharmaceutical company CureVac headquartered in Tübingen, Germany, is building a European vaccine manufacturing network with CDMO partners to deliver pandemic-scale volumes of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV. The company expects to increase its existing manufacturing capacities for CVnCoV to 300m doses in 2021 and 600m doses in 2022.

Ineos has launched a new business, headquartered in the UK, to develop and build clean hydrogen capacity across Europe. In addition, the company has signed of a memorandum of understanding with South Korean automotive manufacturer Hyundai Motor Company to explore new opportunities to accelerate the global hydrogen economy.

Dutch pharmaceutical company Lead Pharma is collaborating with Swiss pharma major Roche to develop oral small molecules to treat a broad range of immune mediated diseases. Lead Pharma will receive an upfront payment of €10m and will be eligible to receive research funding and pre-clinical milestone payments totalling up to €260m, plus royalties on sales.

German science and technology company Merck KGaA is partnering with Hong Kong-based biotechnology company Insilico Medicine to use Insilico’s AI proprietary platform to facilitate drug design.

The Natural Environment Research Council has invested £3.5m in a doctoral centre, the Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use. Led by the University of York, the centre will fund 39 PhD studentships over six years at the universities of York, Cardiff, Exeter, Sheffield, Lancaster and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

South Korean biotechnology company Samsung Biologics has entered a long-term manufacturing agreement with Eli Lilly to accelerate global delivery of Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody treatments. In addition, Samsung has started construction of its biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility at Incheon, South Korea. The plant will have a 256,000L total manufacturing capacity and is expected to begin manufacturing activities by end-2022.

Chinese nutraceutical CDMO Sirio Pharma has built a ‘smart factory’ at its Ma’anshan site, which includes automated processes and monitoring, intelligent distribution robotics and AI tools. The factory is designed to optimise manpower, materials, and financial resources. Automated guided vehicles will perform several functions at the factory, including intelligent production scheduling.

The UK-headquartered CRO Transpharmation, which focuses on translational biology, is opening a laboratory at Discovery Park, Kent. The laboratory and its proximity to other research organisations will provide additional research capability for the company, allowing the team to scale up and accelerate its drug discovery programme.

Belgian global biopharmaceutical company UCB has acquired gene therapy company Handl Therapeutics, which is investigating the use of AAV (adeno-associated virus) capsid technology to treat neurodegenerative diseases. UCB has also started a collaboration with US gene therapy company Lacerta Therapeutics, which has expertise AAV-based CNS targeted gene therapies.

The University of Connecticut, US, has licensed its continuous manufacturing technology for pharmaceutical nanoparticles to DIANT Pharma. The technology, developed by Antonio Costa and Diane Burgess of the university and co-founders of DAINT, works with a range of nanoparticles.

The University of Bath spin-out company Naturbeads has been awarded £47,000 by Innovate UK, to develop its biodegradable alternative to plastic microbeads that are used in a range of industries. The three-month project is part of the UK government’s competitive Small Business Research.

Vibalogics, a global CDMO, headquartered in Cuxhaven, Germany, has started phase I of its planned $150m investment in a virotherapy manufacturing facility near Boston, MA. Vibalogics, which specialises in the production of oncolytic viruses, viral vector vaccines and viral vector gene therapy products, expects the site to be operational by the second half of 2021.

Milliken’s Millad NX 800, including its variants Millad NX 8000E, for polypropylene (PP) blow moulding applications, and Millad NX 8000 ECO, a sustainable PP clarifying agent, are fully compatible with PP recycling processes in Europe and pose no recyclability issues, according to RecyClass, the cross-industry European initiative advancing plastic packaging recyclability. RecyClass approval applies to the technology, and compatible packaging must have a maximum content of the technology of 0.4%.
Finnish start-up Affix Labs has launched Clean N Coat, a surface cleaning product which leaves an ultrathin antimicrobial coating that is said to protect surfaces for up to seven days. It contains Si-Quat, an antiviral component, developed by Affix, that cleans and degreases, leaving a coating friction resistant up to 300 touches. It has been tested in level 3 laboratories including at the University of Lisbon in Portugal, proving effective against 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including Covid-19.
Performance acetal producer, Mitsubishi Engineering Plastics has developed the Iupital 05 polyacetal series, designed to meet requirements for low formaldehyde emissions in automotive, electronic and general industry applications. By optimising the manufacturing technology, it has been possible to reduce the amount of formaldehyde generated in production and use by up to 50%. Standard and high flow grades are available.
Sportswear producer Adidas has entered the next phase of its introduction of its monomaterial thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) Ultraboost DNA Loop running shoe. The first closed trial began in April 2019 with Gen 1 shoes, which were worn and returned for recycling into Gen 2 shoes, which were released to selected users in November 2019. Now Adidas has held a competition to select 1500 Creators Club members for a 21-week programme to test the latest version of the shoe, which will then be returned for recycling. The shoes are ground up and shredded, and the recycled TPU is spun to yarn, knitted, moulded and clean-fused to a midsole.

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