Business digest

C&I Issue 11, 2021

Read time: 5 mins

US CDMO Avid Bioservices, headquartered in Tustin, CA, is expanding into the cell and gene therapy market. The company is building a viral vector development and CGMP manufacturing facility in Costa Mesa, CA.

Shell is incorporating BASF’s proprietary adsorption technology into its carbon reduction portfolio, following a collaboration between the companies. The technology will be used to dehydrate CO2 gas after it has been captured by Shell’s carbon capture technologies.

German pharma major Boehringer Ingelheim has opened its €700m state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical production facility in Vienna, Austria, adding some 185,000L of biopharmaceutical production capacity. The company is also investing an additional €100m in its veterinary public health capabilities in Lyon-Jonage, France, to support governments and public health bodies in managing future transboundary diseases. In addition, Boehringer has launched its University of Medicine Excellence aimed at speeding up the process of turning medical innovation into treatments. With an investment of $3.4m until the end of 2022, the Harvard Medical School has been appointed to deliver its inaugural programme aimed at developing leaders in clinical development with digital and data expertise.

German specialty chemicals company Lanxess and energy company BP are entering into a strategic partnership to use sustainable raw materials in high-tech plastics production. BP will supply sustainably produced cyclohexane to the Lanxess plastics production site in Antwerp, Belgium, starting in Q4 2021.

US pharma company Charles River Laboratories International has divested its research models and services operations in Japan (RMS Japan) and its gene therapy CDMO site in Sweden. The company sold RMS Japan to The Jackson Laboratory for ca $63m, and its CMDO site to a private investor group for ca $52m with potential contingent payments of up to $25m.

UK CDMO Almac has submitted plans for an expansion at its Portadown site in Northern Ireland, to include additional laboratory space and manufacturing support.

UK scientific informatics company Dotmatics is partnering with US software development company RockStep Solutions to develop a digitised in vivo drug discovery platform. The collaboration combines Dotmatics’ real-time access to all research data with RockStep's proprietary software for in vivo management.

US chemicals giant Dow is collaborating with Haldor Topsoe, a Danish company that focuses on carbon reduction technologies, to convert waste plastics, such as PE, to circular plastics. Dow will design and provide the engineering for a 10,000t pa market development unit using Haldor’s technology to purify pyrolysis oil feedstock derived from waste plastics.

ECI Group, a US–UK provider of polyolefin technology and engineering solutions, has signed an engineering expertise agreement with Shandong Yulong Petrochemical, a subsidiary of China’s Nanshan Group, to build a plant capable of producing 200,000t pa of ethylene vinyl acetate and other associated high-pressure copolymers. The plant will be part of Shandong’s 20mt pa refining and petrochemical integrated project, located in Shandong, and will use high-pressure autoclave technology.

The joint venture between German speciality chemicals company Evonik and the Chinese company Wynca – Evonik Wynca (Zhenjiang) Silicon Material – is starting its fumed silica plant in the in Jiangsu province, China. The plant fulfills local market’s demands for silicones, coatings, adhesives, sealants and many other industrial applications.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Schrödinger, a US chemical simulation software company, have entered a two-year collaboration to develop Schrödinger’s cancer therapy, which targets the WEE1 kinase.

US industrial manufacturer Milliken, headquartered in Spartanburg, SC, has acquired microencapsulation technologies company Encapsys from private equity group Cypress.

Investment by Bayer to provide 100m women and girls from low- and middle-income countries with access to contraception by 2030. This investment includes the expansion of production capabilities in Turku, Finland, and construction of a new production site in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

Investment by US CDMO Cambrex to expand its manufacturing facility in High Point, NC, where it develops, manufactures and scales-up small molecule APIs and intermediates to support clinical trials.

Of straw will be processed into 50,000t pa of cellulosic ethanol by Swiss multinational chemicals company Clariant in its recently completed cellulosic ethanol plant in Podari, Romania. The facility will be operational in Q4 2021. The company has also opened its Industrial Applications Innovation Centre at its site in Charlotte, NC, which will support the country’s paints and coatings industry, focusing on novel coatings using powders, waxes and light and heat stabilisers.

Invested by French biotechnology company HTL to more than double its production capacity of pharmaceutical-grade hyaluronic acid, the basis for a range of biopolymers. Biopolymers produced by this unit will be used by the pharmaceutical and medical devices sectors.

Cash offer by US pharma major Merck & Co to acquire biopharma Acceleron Pharma, which focuses on developing medicines that regulate the TGF-b superfamily of proteins. These proteins play a major part in the growth and repair of cell and tissues in the body. The transaction is aimed at boosting Merck’s cardiovascular sector.

Örnsköldsvik, based in northern Sweden, plans an electro-methanol production facility, the first such facility in Sweden, next to Övik Energy’s cogeneration plant for the production of marine fuel. The plant is projected to operational at the start of 2024.

Global fine chemicals manufacturer Minafin is reorganising its business into three main areas of activity: health, green and challenging chemistries, as part of its strategy to meet customer needs in fine chemicals and services. Each division will be headed by its own CEO.

German science and technology company Merck KGaA has opened its second Carlsbad, California-based CDMO facility. The €100m facility will more than double the company’s existing capacity to support large-scale manufacturing for viral gene therapy.

Israeli pharma start-up Quris has launched a clinical AI platform to predict which drug candidates will safely work in humans. Quris is currently preparing the first drug developed on the platform, which is aimed at treating an inherited form of autism, for clinical trials in 2022. In addition, the company is collaborating with the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute to develop an automated, self-training AI platform that better predicts clinical safety and efficacy for new drug candidates.

The Rosalind Franklin Institute, based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, UK, is open. The £43m build, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and built by the Science and Technology Facility Council (STFC), working with construction firm Mace, will house the Franklin team and biological imaging technologies being developed by the institute.

Saudi Arabian multinational chemical company Sabic has started an additional polypropylene (PP) compounding line in Genk, Belgium. The line will use raw materials from SABIC’s PP plants at Gelsenkirchen, Germany, and Geleen, the Netherlands. The line has been equipped with large-scale extrusion technology to meet the market’s growing demand for high-performance PP compounds.

South Korean biotech Samsung Biologics looks set to complete the construction of its $1.5bn bioreactor by mid-2023, six months earlier than planned. The production capacity will increase by about 70% when this fourth plant becomes operational, boosting the company’s manufacture of mRNA vaccines and therapies.

Sandoz, a subsidiary of Swiss pharma major Novartis, has acquired GSK’s cephalosporin antibiotics business. Sandoz has the rights to Zinnat, Zinacef and Fortum in more than 100 markets, but not the rights to certain brands previously divested by GSK in the US, Australia, and Germany. GSK will also retain full brand rights in China, India, Pakistan, and Egypt and certain brands in Japan.

US biotechnology company Selecta Biosciences has entered an agreement to licence its ImmTOR platform to Japanese pharma major Takeda for the development of gene therapies for lysosomal storage disorders. Selecta will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and up to $1.1bn in future additional payments that are contingent on Takeda hitting certain commercial and developmental milestones. Selecta is also eligible for additional royalties following commercialisation of the product.

SynaptixBio, an Oxford, UK-based research company, has been launched by a worldwide team of medical and pharmaceutical scientists to develop the world’s first disease modifying treatment for leukodystrophy, a disease of the central nervous system. The company has entered into a research agreement with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in the US related to a new method for treating the disease and has an option to licence CHOP research related to this project.

US life science company Thermo Fisher Scientific has assumed operational responsibility for a new biologics manufacturing site in Lengnau, Switzerland, as part of its strategic partnership with Australian multinational biotechnology company CSL. The facility will become part of Thermo Fisher's global biologics manufacturing network that includes plants in the US, the Netherlands, Australia and China.

University of Glasgow spinout company Keltic Pharma Therapeutics has received a substantial multi-million Euro award from the EU Malaria Fund to extend its malaria research into a drug that will hopefully cure malaria and prevent the disease from spreading. The company will build on the recent discovery of the protein PfCLK3, which is present in the malaria parasite and is essential for it to survive.

Solvay has introduced a new epoxy prepreg Cycom EP2190 for wing and fuselage applications in the aerospace sector. It is claimed to offer outstanding toughness in thick and thin structures with excellent in-plan performance in hot/wet and cold/dry environments. This performance has been demonstrated during trials at US and European aerospace manufacturers.

Italian packaging manufacturer Tecnocap has utilised BASF’s non-phthalate plasticiser Hexamoll DINCH BMB for sealing gaskets in its metal closures. The plasticiser is said to offer a lower carbon footprint compared with the previous material and saves fossil fuel resources. Hexamoll is produced using bio-naphtha, derived from organic waste or vegetable oils.

Clariant has teamed up with Linde Engineering to develop new catalysts for the production of ethylene by oxidative dehydrogenation of ethane (ODH-E). It is available exclusively for Linde’s EDHOX catalytic on-purpose ethylene technology, which operates at moderate temperatures, below 400°C, compared with up to 900°C for conventional steam cracking. The process offers sequestration of CO2 and the potential for electrification, which can result in a reduction in CO2 emissions of up to 100%, compared with steam cracking. The process has been validated in a full-scale demonstration plant for commercial use.

Novozymes has launched a new natural and biodegradable phosphodiesterase detergent ingredient Pristine to tackle malodour and discoloration. The enzyme is designed to breakdown the layers of body grime, including residual skin cells, sebum and sweat, that accumulate on fabrics releasing trapped odour and even prevent it attaching itself in the first place.

To meet a requirement from Ferrero for a sustainable packaging material for its Ferrero Rocher boxes, Milliken was able to custom design a clear, lightweight and recyclable polypropylene box offering performance improvements. The use of the material is said to offer lower resource consumption and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

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