Business digest

C&I Issue 3, 2021

Read time: 5 mins

US biopharmaceutical company AbbVie has entered a multiyear collaboration with biotechnology company Caribou Biosciences to R&D chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapeutics. AbbVie will use Caribou’s genome editing and cell therapy technologies to develop two therapies and will be responsible for clinical development, commercialisation, and manufacturing. Caribou will receive $40m in an upfront cash payment and equity investment, along with up to $300m in future milestone payments and global tiered royalties.

German pharma major Bayer is divesting its environmental science professional business, which provides solutions to control pests and weeds in non-agricultural areas. The process of evaluation of the business as an independent company is expected to take until mid-2022 before it is finalised.

Italian plastic packaging company Bormioli Pharma has opened a glass research centre in Parma, Italy, at the location of the headquarters of the Institute of Materials for Electronics and Magnetism, which is part of the National Research Council. Bormioli will analyse the chemico-physical characteristics of its glass bottles and investigate alternative formulations and special surface treatments.

A cell therapy manufacturing facility is being built by US pharma major Bristol Myers Squibb on its Devens site in Massachusetts, US. The facility is part of BMS’ investment to support process development, clinical manufacturing and commercial manufacturing for biologics medicines, including an immuno-oncology medicine.

BP and Saudi Arabian multinational chemical manufacturer Sabic are collaborating to drive a circular economy at the Gelsenkirchen chemical complex in Germany. The collaboration will increase production of products that take used mixed plastics as feedstock, thus reducing the fossil resources needed in the petrochemical plants at the site.

US CDMO Cascade Chemistry, based in Eugene, Oregon, is investing $14m to expand its API manufacturing facilities. The facilities, expected to be operational in Q1 2022, will increase the company’s floor space three-fold and add to its cGMP manufacturing capacity and scale.

Global drug delivery and manufacturing company Catalent is set to acquire Belgium-based Delphi Genetics, a CDMO with capabilities in handling the plasmid DNA development and CGMP manufacturing process. The acquisition fast-tracks Catalent’s US expansion of plasmid capabilities at its Rockville facility.

The European chemicals agency, ECHA, based in Helsinki, Finland, has published Costs and benefits of REACH restrictions. The study presents ECHA’s analysis on the impacts of REACH restrictions on health and the environment proposed in 2016-20 and includes the findings of the previous report on the same subject published in 2016.

Germany-headquartered chemicals company HCS Group and US renewable chemical and advanced biofuels company Gevo are collaborating to build a renewable hydrocarbon facility at HCS’ site in Speyer, Germany. The collaboration, using Gevo’s proprietary low-carbon alcohol to jet technology, anticipates a first project will produce around 60,000t of renewable hydrocarbons, advanced biofuels, and low-carbon sustainable aviation fuel by the end of 2024.

UK pharma major GSK is expanding its existing Covid-19 focused collaboration with Vir Biotechnology to include R&D of therapies for influenza and other respiratory viruses. GSK will have the exclusive option to co-develop VIR-2482 for the treatment of flu and will share the costs on the development of all other influenza monoclonal antibodies. GSK is making an upfront payment of $225m, together with an equity investment in Vir of $120m. If GSK takes its option to co-develop VIR-2482, it will pay a fee of $300m. GSK will also pay Vir up to $200m based on the successful delivery of pre-defined regulatory milestones.

Irish CRO Icon is set to acquire US-based PRA Health Sciences in a cash and stock deal worth around $12bn. The combined company is expected to accelerate clinical research, bringing new medicines and devices to market faster.

Venture fund announced by US global life sciences investment company Adjuvant Capital. Aimed at improving global public health, Adjuvant’s investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Merck and Novartis, among many others.

Upfront payment made by US biotechnology company Beam Therapeutics, headquartered in Massachusetts, to acquire Georgia-based Guide Therapeutics, which develops nonviral drug delivery vehicles for genetic medicines. Guide stockholders will be eligible to receive up to an additional $320m in milestone payments.

Cash offer from US laboratory services company Charles River Laboratories International to acquire Cognate BioServices, a cell and gene therapy CDMO based in Memphis, US. The transaction is expected to close by the end of Q1 2021, subject to regulatory requirements and customary closing conditions.

Price agreed by Novartis division Sandoz to acquire GSK’s cephalosporin antibiotics business. GSK will receive $350m from Sandoz at closing with additional milestone payments of up to $150m, subject to certain terms. Sandoz will get the global rights to the Zinnat, Zinacef and Fortum brands in more than 100 markets. The transaction is expected to close in H2 2021.

Total equity to be paid by US pharma major Merck & Co to acquire, through one of its subsidiaries, US biotech company Pandon Therapeutics. The biotech develops therapeutics for autoimmune diseases.

Lakes BioScience, a company formed from a team of UK industrialists, has been granted planning permission to build a £350m biomanufacturing plant on the GSK site at Ulverston in Cumbria. The permission comes just days after GSK announced it will close its Ulverston factory.

German specialty chemicals company Lanxess is set to acquire US speciality chemicals manufacturer Emerald Kalama Chemical. The transaction is expected to be completed in H2 2021. In addition, Lanxess has opened a €10m nitrous oxide reduction plant at its site in Antwerp. The plant breaks down around 500mt of the gas/year, equivalent to the climate impact of 150,000mt of CO2. A second plant is scheduled to start in 2023 and is expected to eliminate a further 300,000mt of CO2 equivalents.

Swiss multinational chemicals and biotech company Lonza has sold its speciality ingredients business to private equity firms Bain Capital and Cinven for $4.7bn.

UK life sciences-focused investment firm Medicxi Ventures has launched Centessa Pharmaceuticals. The new company was created by acquiring 10 companies from the Medicxi portfolio and securing $250m in a series A financing led by General Atlantic and co-led by Vida Ventures and Janus Henderson Investors, alongside a group of blue-chip investors.

German science and technology company Merck KgaA is to provide CDMO services to South Korean biopharmaceutical company Alteogen. Using its proprietary technology, Merck will produce recombinant biologics for the development and clinical evaluation of therapeutics of Alteogen’s monoclonal antibody drugs.

The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society UK has awarded £1.85m each to the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh for a five-year research collaboration into MS.

Swiss pharma major Novartis has entered into an agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund a project aimed at developing a single-administration, in vivo gene therapy to cure sickle cell disease.

Danish life sciences investor Novo Holdings has agreed to acquire the Canadian CRO Altasciences from Audax Private Equity. The deal comes one week after Altasciences acquired the Californian CRO WCCT Global. Meanwhile, Novo’s multinational pharma subsidiary, Novo Nordisk is investing DKK500m to expand its facilities at its production site in Måløv, Denmark, which manufactures therapeutics for oral diabetes. The expansion is expected to be completed in 2022. In addition, the company is investing DKK200m in a collaboration with the University of Toronto, Canada, to establish a network that will impact the global fight against diabetes and other chronic diseases.

French multinational pharma company Sanofi is collaborating with German gene therapy specialist Sirion Biotech to develop improved tissue-selective adeno-associated virus vectors for gene therapy treatments for disorders affecting major human organs. In addition, Sanofi is collaborating with US biotechnology start-up i2O Therapeutics to investigate the oral delivery of Sanofi’s nano medicines, which are currently administered through intravenous or subcutaneous injections.

The University of California, San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley, which are part of the Weill Neurohub, are collaborating with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to develop therapeutics for brain diseases and disorders of the central nervous system. The universities will receive up to $53m from Genentech over the course of the 10-year collaboration.

UK Research and Innovation has launched round two of a £16m-funding competition aimed at developing a more sustainable plastic packaging supply chain, as well as encouraging research into new materials and processes, and collaboration to help reduce the environmental impacts of plastic packaging.

The US Department of Energy is investing $25m in fundamental science research that addresses the global plastic waste crisis. The research will focus on polymer upcycling, which has the potential to turn waste plastic into other valuable products and reduce the high energy costs associated with plastic production.

UK workplace design company, Orangebox has used Econamid polyamides, produced from 100% recycled post-industrial textile fibres by Germany’s DOMO Chemical, in its Kirn office chair. The chair, which has been designed with an end-of-life recyclability of 99%, weighs just 12kg and is said to have a carbon footprint of 37.5kg. It was developed with support from plastic moulder Linear Plastics and DOMO distributor Ultrapolymers.

Hard seltzer, or alcoholic sparkling water, is a new drink that has spread from the US to Europe and the rest of the world. To produce it, water is carbonised, minimally sweetened and a little alcohol and flavouring, usually natural, is added. Cold sterilisation using Velcorin technology from Lanxess has been used to provide microbiological stability. Based on dimethyl decarbonate (DMDC), Velcorin is dosed into the drink before canning or bottling, and the active ingredient kills microbial contamination, producing small amounts of methanol and carbon dioxide and all excess DMDC reacts with the water so no traces of Velcorin are left in the product.

UK-based Hanford+Green has developed a water-based antimicrobial paint, Microsafe, which has also been shown to be effective against the SAR-CoV-2 coronavirus, reducing the virus by over 45% after 6hr, as well as MRSA and E. coli. The paint uses Biomaster’s silver-ion technology so it does not require light activation and can be recoated within 60 minutes of the original application.

Stephenson, a natural ingredients producer, based in Leeds, UK, has launched a solid shampoo conditioning bar, as part of its melt and pour range, in a drive to support the reduced use of plastic packaging and water during hair washing. The natural ingredients include behentrimonium, a cationic surfactant to act as a conditioning agent, together with shea butter and coconut oil, and hydrogenated ethylhexyl olivate, a natural emollient. The formulation can be customised to also include a customer’s own additives.

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