Business digest

C&I Issue 6, 2021

Read time: 7 mins

Canadian CRO Altasciences, headquartered in Laval, Quebec, has acquired Calvert Laboratories, a preclinical CRO located on the US East Coast.

US private equity firm Arcline Investment Management, based in San Francisco, CA, has acquired Spanish nanotechnology company Polypeptide Therapeutic Solutions from Spanish venture capital firm Columbus Venture Partners. PTS manufactures GMP-grade polyamino-acid based nanoparticle encapsulation technology for drug delivery applications.

UK-headquartered carbon capture technology company Carbon Clean is collaborating with US on-site hydrogen production company BayoTech, headquartered in New Mexico, to explore commercial opportunities for hydrogen and carbon capture. The companies will develop a demonstration facility to evaluate, design, and operate a carbon capture plant at a BayoTech site in North America, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2022.

US multinational drug delivery company Catalent has acquired the cell therapy manufacturing subsidiary, Hepatic Cell Therapy Support, including its facility in Gosselies, Belgium, from Promethera Biosciences. The facility will accommodate Catalent’s commercial-scale plasmid DNA manufacturing, which was recently acquired from Delphi Genetics to support the cell and gene therapy pipeline.

Swiss-American biotechnology company CRISPR Therapeutics and US biopharmaceutical company Nkarta are collaborating to develop gene edited cell therapies for cancer. The companies will together develop and commercialise two candidate drugs. In addition, Nkarta will obtain a license to use CRISPR gene editing technology to edit five gene targets in an unlimited number of its own NK cell therapy products. The companies will share R&D costs and profits worldwide related to the collaboration products. For each non-collaboration product candidate incorporating a gene editing target licensed from CRISPR Therapeutics, Nkarta will retain worldwide rights and pay CRISPR Therapeutics milestones and royalties on net sales.

Clean Biologics, a group providing services to the biopharmaceutical industry, headquartered in Lyon, France, has acquired Canadian CDMO Biodextris.

A UK centre of excellence for the bioscience industries, the National Horizons Centre, run by Teeside University, is partnering with Discovery Park, a life sciences ‘opportunity zone’ in Sandwich, Kent, to bring together life sciences expertise and networking opportunities in the north and south of the country. The partnership will identify, among other things, gaps in the market, such as research challenges and funding opportunities, and develop strategies to fill the gaps.

The European Commission has adopted the EU Action Plan: Towards zero pollution for air, water and soil. The plan sets out several actions, including aligning the air quality standards more closely to the latest recommendations of the World Health Organization, reviewing the standards for the quality of water, including in EU rivers and seas, reducing soil pollution, and reviewing EU waste laws to adapt them to the clean and circular economy principles.

Norwegian producer of advanced materials Elkem has established Vianode as a fully owned subsidiary and brand dedicated to developing sustainable active anode materials to meet the needs of the electric vehicles market. Elkem is currently inviting external industrial and financial partners to participate in the new company.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has relaunched its climate indicators website, which shows how climate change is impacting people’s health and environment. The resource presents evidence of changes to our climate reflected in rising temperatures, ocean acidity, sea level rise, river flooding, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires, among other indicators.

German protein engineering company Navigo Proteins is collaborating with South Korean biotech MDimune to achieve tissue-targeting of extracellular vesicles. While the current project is aimed at treating solid tumours, this research could be expanded to other tissues and diseases.

US biotechnology company Ginkgo Bioworks, which designs organisms for industrial applications, is set to acquire biotech Dutch DNA. Utrecht-based Dutch DNA has a proprietary technology for developing fungal strains and fermentation processes to produce proteins and organic acids. Ginkgo will acquire 100% of Dutch DNA shares and certain stakeholders of Dutch DNA will receive payments upon achievement of one or more technical and commercialisation milestones.

Investment by US multinational medical technology company Becton Dickinson to build a high-tech manufacturing facility in Zaragoza, Spain. The facility, which will be a fully digital site, is expected to be operational by 2030.

Expected cash price to be paid by US pharmaceutical company Charles River Laboratories International to acquire US-based gene therapy CDMO Vigene Biosciences. The transaction includes contingent additional payments of up to $57.5m based on future performance and is expected to close in the beginning of Q3 2021.

Investment by Swiss multinational chemicals and biotechnology company Lonza to expand its mammalian drug substance manufacturing facilities in Visp, Switzerland, and in Portsmouth, US.

Cash offer from US global analytical instrument maker Perkin Elmer to acquire Nexcelom, a US company which develops and markets image cytometry products for cell analysis. The transaction is expected to close during the Q2 2021.

Invested by Sandoz, a division of Swiss pharma major Novartis, to expand its production capabilities in Kundl, Austria, and in Palafolls, Spain. Initially Sandoz will invest more than €100m at Kundl to produce oral amoxicillin, an API for its leading penicillin product. In addition, Sandoz will invest €50m at the Spanish site to produce sterile penicillin APIs and sterile API mixtures.

FairJourney Biologics and its protein sciences division Flow Eighteen38 have licensed proprietary llama naïve libraries to the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands to generate antibodies for cancer research. The reagent antibodies comply with the recent EU recommendations on non-animal-derived antibodies.

German science and technology company Merck KgaA is extending its collaboration with BioMed X Institute in Heidelberg, supporting up to six more research projects in oncology and autoimmunity. In addition, Merck has become a member of the living lab DELTA (Darmstadt energy laboratory for technologies in application) through which universities and companies in Darmstadt want to create a climate-friendlier energy system. All project partners are providing a total of around €100m for the project over the next five years.

US pharma major Eli Lilly and UK-based MiNA Therapeutics, which focuses on RNA activation therapeutics, are collaborating to develop up to five drug candidates using MiNA’s proprietary technology. Lilly will be responsible for preclinical and clinical development of candidates and will retain exclusive commercialisation rights for any products resulting from the collaboration. MiNA will receive a $25m upfront payment and is eligible to receive potential development and commercialisation milestones up to a total of $245m/target, as well as tiered royalties resulting from the collaboration.

US biotech Moderna is more than doubling the size of its technology centre in Norwood, MA. The expansion will support a 50% increase in production of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, which is planned for late 2021 and early 2022.

MET Development, Stamicarbon and NextChem, two subsidiaries of the Italian engineering group Maire Tecnimont, have started work on a renewable power–to-fertiliser plant in Kenya. MET Development has signed an agreement with Oserian Development Company to build the plant at the Oserian Two Lakes Industrial Park located north of Nairobi. Commercial operation of the plant, which will be dedicated to local Kenyan agri-business, is planned for 2025.

French CDMO Novasep is expanding its HPAPI manufacturing capabilities for anticancer molecules on its Le Mans site.

The newly formed US subsidiary of UK DNA synthesis company Nuclera has acquired the digital microfluidics unit of US electronic ink technology company E link. Combining the technologies of the two companies will enable the delivery of a fast desktop protein and gene ‘bioprinter’ for researchers in human health, agriculture, among other markets.

South Korean RNA therapeutics company OliX Pharmaceuticals and PCI Biotech, a Norwegian cancer focused biopharma with proprietary intracellular delivery technology for nucleic acid-based therapies, are collaborating to explore synergies on dermatology and other applications.

UK biotech Phico Therapeutics, which is developing engineered phage technology as the basis of a new generation of antibiotics, has raised £7m in new investment. The financing was led by UK’s capital investor BGF, which invested £3m, with the remainder coming from the other existing Phico investors. The funds will be used to support the continued development of Phico’s proprietary technology platform.

French pharma major Sanofi is divesting its R&D facility in Malvern, PA, where investigational medical products are packaged and distributed. The Great Valley site will close by the end of September 2021.

Belgian-based international chemicals company Solvay aims to phase out the use of thermal coal at its soda ash plant in Rheinberg, Germany by 2025. The company’s first biomass boiler will go into operation in May 2021, with a second one planned. Both boilers will use scrap waste wood chips from industrial residues and demolition sites as fuel to produce steam and electricity.

Sabic has launched a biobased flame retardant, carbon-fibre reinforced compound, LNP Thermocomp DC0041PE-7M1D145W suitable for thin-wall applications and components in electrical/electronics, healthcare and other key industries requiring good dimensional stability. For every 100kg of the compound, 21kg of fossil-based materials have been replaced by materials derived from waste or residue and included over 50% of recycled content for post-consumer recycled resin and pre-consumer recycled carbon fire sources.

Clariant Active Ingredients and Beraca, the Brazilian neutral products producer, have launched Ethience Protect, described as a barrier function balancer for skin care applications. Based on Brazil nut extract, it is said to rebuild and strengthen skin’s natural protective lipid layer shield, as well as resulting in better hydrated, less sensitive and healthier looking skin. Specific applications include addressing ‘high friction’ situations such as mask wearing and shaving.

The detrimental impact of pesticides on non-target organisms is a major concern that may be addressed by the development of double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) by researchers at the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Ghent University and Maastricht University. As their model crop/pest system they used the pollen beetle (Brassicogethes aeneus) and oilseed rape (Brassica napus) to determine how RNAi efficacy depends upon the duration of dietary exposure to dsRNA. This was used to optimise dsRNA spray methods to manage crop pests, the preferred approach in the EU, for example, compared with the engineering and cultivation of RNAi cultivars (Communications Biology, doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-01975-9).

Engineers at Purdue University, US, have created what they claim to be the whitest paint yet. The acrylic paint will also keep surfaces cooler than their previous formulation. The new formulation has a very high concentration of barium sulfate, with different particle sizes that offer the broadest spectral scattering. The paint reflects up to 98.1% of sunlight with a cooling power of 10kw for 1000ft2 of paint coverage (ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, doi: 10.1021/acsami.1c02368).

Airnov Healthcare Packaging has introduced Oxynov oxygen and moisture barrier bottles, made using extrusion blow moulding to create a six-layer bottle with ethylene vinyl alcohol, and Pharmakeep, a two-in-one oxygen and moisture absorber, available in drop-in canisters and packets.

Become an SCI Member to receive benefits and discounts

Join SCI