Business digest

C&I Issue 7, 2021

Read time: 6-7 mins

US immune-oncology company Aleta Biotherapeutics is collaborating with Cancer Research UK on Aleta’s blood cancer therapy. Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development will fund, sponsor and conduct Phase 1/2a clinical trials of Aleta’s candidate drug. The programme is being led by Amit Patel’s team at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.

German pharma major Bayer is closing its research hub in San Francisco, US, after a 10-year stint in the city to consolidate its research activities in Boston, MA. The Open Innovation Center–North America West will close when its lease runs out later in 2021.

German chemicals distributor Brenntag has entered into an agreement to acquire US food ingredients distributor JM Swank from private equity investor Platinum Equity. Closing of the acquisition is subject to certain contractual conditions and regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed within Q3 2021.

Netherlands headquartered Centrient Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of antibiotics, statins and anti-fungals, has started production at its new statins manufacturing unit on the Toansa site in India. The company expects the unit will double its statins production capacity.

UK-based CRO Charnwood Molecular has acquired the assay development and biological screening provider Aurelia Bioscience, also based in the UK. In addition, Charnwood is relocating its current BioCity and Loughborough operations to a single site, state-of-the-art laboratory at the Charnwood Campus, Loughborough.

German CRO Coriolis Pharma is expanding its ATMP development facilities. Re-construction of an existing building near the Coriolis headquarters in Planegg started in March 2021 and the laboratories are planned to be operational in Q4 2021.

US biopharma company and provider of manufacturing services for the cell therapy market Dendreon Pharmaceuticals has established a contract manufacturing and services division to bring late-stage clinical assets through to commercialisation. Dendreon now offers end-to-end manufacturing of complex cell therapies and patient logistics for partner programmes.

UK big data and analysis company DeepMatter, which focuses on digitising chemistry, is partnering with the University of Leeds to develop automated precision manufacturing approaches. This is part of an £1.4m EPSRC funded project between the University of Leeds and the University of Sheffield, AstraZeneca, Somaserve and Samsung. DeepMatter will provide its cloud-based platform, which allows chemists to share data in real-time; its sensor package, which provides a perspective on chemical reaction data; and a hardware device to interface with the platforms at the University of Leeds.

German drug discovery company Evotec, headquartered in Hamburg, has launched an initiative to be better prepared for and respond faster to viral pandemics of the future. PRROTECT will, for example, combine first-in-class programmes across therapeutic modalities, and accelerate R&D timelines for highly effective neutralising antibodies with AI prediction tools.

Finnish energy company Fortum is investing around €24m to expand its Li-ion battery recycling capacity. The company intends to build a hydrometallurgical plant in Harjavalta, Finland, which will recover scarce metals from old electric vehicle Li-ion batteries while also recycling various waste fractions derived throughout the battery supply chain.

US biotech Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, is launching the Advancing Inclusive Research Site Alliance, a coalition of clinical research partners to advance the representation of diverse patient populations in the company’s oncology clinical trials.

Dublin, Ireland-headquartered Horizon Therapeutics has reached an agreement to buy a drug manufacturing facility from EirGen Pharma, an OPKO Health company in Waterford, Ireland, for $65m cash. The transaction is expected to close in Q3 2021.

Finnish oil refining company Neste, which produces renewable diesel from waste, and Dutch multinational chemical company LyondellBasell have together produced bio-based polypropylene and bio-based low-density polyethylene at a commercial scale. The plastics have been approved to produce food packaging.

Investment from industry-led equity company Blackstone Life Sciences to launch a CAR T-cell company with US genome editing company Intellia Therapeutics and German cell therapy company Cellex Cell Professionals. The new company will be headquartered in Cambridge, MA, and will acquire Cellex’s subsidiary GEMoaB in Dresden, Germany.

Financing raised by Circle Pharma, a US macrocycle drug discovery and development company focused on intractable cancer targets. The financing was co-led by venture capital firm The Column Group and Swiss venture capital firm Nextech Invest

Agreed price to be paid by US pharma company Elanco Animal Health, which produces medicines and vaccines for pets and livestock, to acquire Kindred Biosciences, which focuses on developing biologics for pets. Elanco intends to fund the acquisition with pre-payable debt. The transaction is expected to close in Q3 2021

Funding from the Swedish Energy Agency to Project Air, a collaboration between Swedish chemical group Perstorp, German energy company Uniper and Finnish energy company Fortum to produce methanol from recovered end-of-life streams and hydrogen from electrolysis. The aim is to reduce carbon emissions by up to half a million tonnes annually.

Investment by South Korea’s SK bioscience to expand vaccine production and to make mRNA and viral vector vaccines at its plant in Andong, southeast of Seoul. The company plans to add some 99,130m2 of additional production space at the site.

US multinational technology giant IBM has launched a quantum computer in Germany. The Q System, housed in Ehningen, is expected to be Europe’s most powerful quantum computer in the industrial context and is the company’s first quantum computer in use outside of the US.

US biopharma Kite Pharma, a Gilead company, which develops cancer immunotherapy products, is collaborating with US biomedical company Shoreline Biosciences to develop novel cell therapies across a variety of cancer targets. The collaboration will use Shoreline’s knowhow in iPSC differentiation and genetic reprogramming with Kite’s cell therapy development, commercialisation, and manufacturing capabilities.

US biopharma Legend Biotech, which develops cell therapies for oncology and other indications, has established a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Belgium. The facility is part of a joint investment with Janssen Pharmaceutica to expand its global manufacturing capacity of cellular therapies.

UK-headquartered Iksuda Therapeutics, which focuses on antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) for difficult-to-treat cancers, is extending its research collaboration with South Korean biotech LegoChem Biosciences. Iksuda has now been granted rights for three additional targets, bringing the total number of potential ADC programmes using LegoChem’s proprietary technologies to six. Meanwhile, the South Korean biotech is partnering with Chinese-headquartered CDMO WuXi to develop and manufacture ADCs.

Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, Finnish technology company Wärtsilä, and Habitat Energy, the UK-based battery storage optimisation specialist, have launched a transmission-network at the Cowley substation on the outskirts of Oxford, UK. The UK government-backed network integrates energy storage, electric vehicle charging, low carbon heating and smart energy management technologies with the aim of decarbonising Oxford by 2040.

German CDMO Richter-Helm is tripling its cGMP manufacturing capacity in Bovenau, Germany. The multi-product biological manufacturing facility is expected to begin full-scale operations by end-2023.

The German Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy and its Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology have teamed up with Saudi Arabian multinational chemical manufacturer Sabic and US multinational consumer goods production company Procter & Gamble to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling of single-use facemasks.

Canadian fusion energy company General Fusion is to build a fusion demonstration plant at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Culham campus in Oxfordshire. The plant will demonstrate General Fusion’s proprietary magnetised target fusion technology. Construction is expected to begin in 2022, with operations beginning approximately three years later.

The UK government is funding clinical research to the tune of £66m. The investment includes money for the development and trial of new Covid-19 treatments and is part of its vision for The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery published in March 2021.

Dutch gene therapy company uniQure looks set to acquire French biotech Corlieve Therapeutics for €46.3m. As part of the deal, Uniqure will pick up Corlieve’s lead drug candidate for treating temporal lobe epilepsy. In addition, Corlieve will receive up to €43.7m for development milestones through phase 1/2 and another €160m for phase 3 and approvals in the US and EU.

Chinese headquartered global pharma and medical device company WuXi AppTech is expanding its CDMO provision by building a facility in Delaware, US. It’s asking the US state to invest $19m in the facility, which would eventually employ 1,200 people.

French CDMO Yposkesi is investing €58m in the construction of its second commercial cell and gene therapy facility. The facility, which is being backed by the company’s new majority equity stakeholder global CDMO SK Pharmteco, will provide production capacity for early clinical to commercially available biologics used to treat rare diseases.

Denmark’s Vordingborg Biofuel plans to invest around DKK2bn in a new facility in the Port of Vordingborg, south of Copenhagen, to produce up to 200,000t/year of biomethanol from straw.

Ineos, in collaboration with French dairy major Lactel, has scored a world’s first with an initial trial production run of 140,000 milk bottles based on HDPE from advanced recycling technology. The bottles were produced in Lactel’s Montauban plant and are compliant with food safety regulations, certified by the Round Table on Sustainable Biomaterials and fully recyclable.

Ashland has introduced Aquaflow ECO-300, a high shear, biocide-free nonionic synthetic thickener for high-performance waterborne paints and coatings in active solid dosage form. This rheology modifier is based on hydrophobically-modified polyacetal-polyether (HM-PAPE) chemistry and is a drop-in replacement for urethane type (HEUR) thickeners. It is also said to work well in conjunction with hydroxyethylcellulose (GEC/HMHEC) and other nonionic cellulose ethers.

Polypropylene straight fibres, produced in Belgium by Beaulieu Fibres, and distributed in the UK by James Robinson Fibres, are used by Mansfield Sand in its Fibresand and Reinforced Rootzones sports products used to reinforce the natural grass structure of professional football pitches, as well as urban green spaces and landscaping. The products are used in the top 100mm of the pitch construction profile to provide stability and resilience by enhancing the natural grass root structure.

Sabic has supplied its certified renewable polypropylene resins for the production of plastic film produced by Alma Packaging for the thermoforming of coffee capsules for use by Swiss coffee specialist Delica in its Delizio coffee machines. The resins, part of Sabic’s Trucircle portfolio of circular products and services, are manufactured from tall oil, a waste product from wood pulping.

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