A California biotech steps into the viral vector space with new site build of $75M
As cell and gene therapy gets hotter, a California CDMO has made a play to open an entirely new arm of its operations to fill a void in the market.
Avid Bioservices will move into the cell and gene therapy market, with the construction of a 53,000 square-foot viral vector cGMP manufacturing site down the road from its Tustin, CA headquarters.
The site will be completed within 18 months, with CEO Nicholas Green saying that January 2023 is an anticipated opening date. If the project stays on track, its analytical and process development labs could be ready for partial use in the next six to eight months.
The investment follows an investment in manufacturing in Tustin, which underwent phase two of the building process in February. The entire build will cost somewhere in the range of $65 million — $75 million, and brings the company’s potential revenue capacity up to around $350 million.
Avid’s decision to enter this space comes from the CDMO industry’s lack of a presence in high quality cGMP viral vector manufacturing.
”We kind of got a lot of our ducks in a row and saw that part of the business performing quite nicely,” Green said in a call with Endpoints News Wednesday. “We started looking around the field at the various different areas of biologics manufacturing that we thought would be of interest, and in some of my quarterly calls, I’ve highlighted those different areas…we kind of did some deep dives and diligence, and the feedback we got was what we considered to be our core strengths…and this seemed like a sensible and logical move.”
With the announcement, the company also welcomed Drew Brennan aboard as the newly appointed general manager of viral vector technologies. He comes from Novasep, a US CDMO that focuses on viral vector manufacturing in which he spent 12 years, and recently oversaw the construction of several new sites in Belgium. There will certainly be more personnel announcements, as Avid begins to put its team together. But the challenge lies in the need to find a highly competent team with prior viral vector experience.
“It is very specific technology, and therefore, individuals who have experience in a wide variety of different vectors, a wide variety of different expression systems, that’s a huge plus,” Brennan said. “Even though a lot of the technology is centered now around AAV as well as lentivector, there’s still a lot of other vectors out there, retrovirus, alphavirus. It’s very important that we have a team that is well-versed in these types of vector systems.”
In December, the biotech generated some $34.5 million in revenue when it closed the offering of its public stock. During its 2022 Q1 call, the company announced its revenue was up 20% from last year, to $30.8 million.