At busy Visp site, Lonza will up microbial services by 50%
In an effort to up its development of microbial-derived proteins, Swiss CDMO Lonza will invest in its manufacturing capacities in its home country.
The extension will be good to go by the end of this year, the company said. The expanded development will strengthen the upstream, downstream and process analytics support for new projects. The microbial footprint at its Visp site will be consolidated, and new high-throughput equipment and automation processes will be added to increase efficiency and project delivery. That will include three liquid handling workstations, and the upgrades will help improve data generation.
Vice President Shiva Khalafpour said in a press release:
The microbial-derived pipeline is growing at a healthy rate driven by an increase in alternatives to antibodies such as nanobodies, designed ankyrin repeat proteins (DARPins), single-chain antibodies, etc. For some of these molecules, microbial systems show better and more efficient productivities, which is increasing the trend toward outsourcing as customers need to rely on key microbial expertise. Expanding our development laboratories will enable us to support new customers with the development and manufacture of these molecules and other recombinant proteins for both clinical and commercial projects.
The expansion will also feature a new pilot suite with a 50L fermenter that can generate non-GMP product for formulation and toxicology studies, as well as new manufacturing capacity that will be ready to operate in 2022.
In September, the company announced manufacturing investments at three of its sites, including the Visp location. It’s already expanded in China, New Hampshire and the Netherlands as well, to help support its doubling of mRNA drug substance manufacturing, as it has worked closely with Moderna. At one point, Lonza called upon federal workers and some from local universities to supplement its workforce in Visp, even borrowing workers from food giant Nestlé, covering food, salary, travel and lodging for about 75 workers while it looked for a long-term solution to its staffing woes.
The company also announced a manufacturing partnership with BlueJay last week, a developer of therapeutics to treat hepatitis B infection. The deal will allow Lonza to make BJT-778, one of the company’s lead candidates, an mAb that targets the surface antigen HBsAg. The agreement will cover the early stages from gene manufacturing to IND, and provide cell line, process and analytical development at the Visp, Basel and Stein, China sites.
Jeetendra Vaghjiani, the executive director of clinical development and strategic marketing, said in a press release:
“This collaboration signifies our commitment and flexibility in accommodating the specific and unique needs of emerging biotechs taking their lead candidate to clinic. Our team has extensive expertise to set up a customized formulation platform, proactively anticipate risks and suggest mitigation measures that will help move BlueJay’s candidate from preclinical stages into the clinic.”