Amid a busy year and new lead­er­ship, Lon­za looks to build bio­con­ju­gates ca­pac­i­ty with Swiss ex­pan­sion set for 2022

Pierre-Alain Ruffieux

The year 2020 has been busy for con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ers, a trend which is hold­ing strong as an un­prece­dent­ed 12 months draw to a close. Swiss CD­MO Lon­za, one of the biggest play­ers in the field and un­der the re­cent lead­er­ship of Roche vet Pierre-Alain Ruffieux, has been at the fore­front of that out­sourc­ing boom, and now it’s look­ing to keep on grow­ing for what could be an even busier fu­ture.

Buoyed by deals to pro­duce 1 bil­lion world­wide dos­es of Mod­er­na’s Covid-19 vac­cine, Lon­za an­nounced an ex­pan­sion Mon­day that will in­crease its pro­duc­tion ca­pac­i­ty 30% by the first half of 2022.

Fo­cused on bio­con­ju­ga­tion—a process that can de­vel­op more com­plex pro­tein ther­a­peu­tics—Lon­za will add a rough­ly 16,100-square-foot ex­pan­sion to its fa­cil­i­ty in Visp, Switzer­land, for both clin­i­cal and com­mer­cial sup­ply. The com­pa­ny said it will al­so con­struct a 53,800-square-foot sup­port build­ing to in­crease stor­age and oth­er sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture, with the hope of mak­ing client work­flow more flex­i­ble and ef­fi­cient.

The cost of the ex­pan­sions was not pro­vid­ed.

Iwan Bertholjot­ti

“The lat­est in­vest­ment in ad­di­tion­al bio­con­ju­ga­tion de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­i­ty is well aligned with oth­er cur­rent in­vest­ments in mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies and small mol­e­cules with­in the Lon­za net­work,” Iwan Bertholjot­ti, Lon­za’s di­rec­tor of com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment bio­con­ju­gates, said in a press re­lease. “To­geth­er they fur­ther ex­tend our of­fer of a re­li­able and in­te­grat­ed sup­ply so­lu­tion for an ex­pand­ing class of in­no­v­a­tive ther­a­pies.”

Lon­za’s ex­pan­sion ef­forts come amid a year of change at the biotech. In June, af­ter an ex­tend­ed head­hunt­ing search, the com­pa­ny named for­mer Roche ex­ec­u­tive Pierre-Alain Ruffieux as CEO. Ruffieux paints him­self as a re-in­ven­tor of drug man­u­fac­tur­ing process­es, which seemed to fit what Lon­za was seek­ing — as it has re­cent­ly des­ig­nat­ed new growth ar­eas, in­vest­ed in new fa­cil­i­ties and re­vamp­ing a strug­gling spe­cial in­gre­di­ents di­vi­sion.

Since 2006, Lon­za has pro­duced over 600 cGMP batch­es of bio­con­ju­gat­ed prod­ucts for over 60 dif­fer­ent projects.

All signs point to Lon­za as a big play­er in the CD­MO are­na mov­ing for­ward. Just in De­cem­ber, for ex­am­ple, the com­pa­ny has an­nounced six dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ing and de­vel­op­ment col­lab­o­ra­tions with var­i­ous biotech out­fits — not to men­tion the con­tin­ued im­pact Lon­za will have on the pro­duc­tion of Covid-19 vac­cines.

5AM Ven­tures: Fu­el­ing the Next Gen­er­a­tion of In­no­va­tors

By RBC Capital Markets
With Andy Schwab, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at 5AM Ventures

Key Points

Prescription Digital Therapeutics, cell therapy technologies, and in silico medicines will be a vital part of future treatment modalities.
Unlocking the potential of the microbiome could be the missing link to better disease diagnosis.
Growing links between academia, industry, and venture capital are spinning out more innovative biotech companies.
Biotech is now seen by investors as a growth space as well as a safe haven, fuelling the recent IPO boom.

Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

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Michelle McMurry-Heath, BIO CEO (BIO via YouTube)

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