Boehringer Ingelheim beefs up vet portfolio with GST buyout; Novartis, Austria to invest €150M in European manufacturing deal
One year after the European launch of Arti-Cell Forte — a stem cell product used to treat lameness in horses — Boehringer Ingelheim has acquired Belgian veterinary biotech company Global Stem cell Technology (GST) with an eye to expanding its portfolio of animal health drugs.
Boehringer ranked as the world’s second largest animal health company in 2019, behind New Jersey-based Zoetis, with about €19 billion (or $21.7 billion) in total net sales. It initially partnered with GST in 2018, and the resulting Arti-Cell Forte was the first veterinary stem cell medicine to gain market authorization from the European Commission.
Boehringer hopes the acquisition will lead to an accelerated development pipeline and expanded veterinary portfolio. Last year, the company pumped €3.5 billion (or $4.1 billion) into R&D. The 2 companies are keeping the terms of the deal under wraps.
“This decision is fully aligned with our recently refocused strategic direction,” Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health head of global innovation Eric Haaksma said in a prepared statement. “Stem cell research areas and regenerative medicine offer an exciting potential for the next wave of innovation we are actively pursuing. In addition, strengthening external partnerships to accelerate our innovative efforts and growth is one of the key elements of our strategy.”
Earlier this month, Boehringer designated $507.9 million to build a new External Innovation Hub in Shanghai. It also began collaborating with Numab Therapeutics to develop drugs for lung and gastrointestinal cancers, and geographic atrophy.
Novartis and Austrian government navigate proposed deal to boost antibiotic manufacturing
Seeking a long-term competitive edge in antibiotic manufacturing, Novartis and Austria’s government plan is to invest more than €150 million over the next five years to boost the company’s production of active ingredients used in penicillin products.
Sandoz, a division of Novartis focused on generics and biosimilars, currently manufactures 300 million packs of antibiotics annually, and claims to produce enough penicillin products to meet all of Europe’s demand. The funds would support new manufacturing technology for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and finished dosage forms (FDFs) at Novartis’ Kundl, Austria, facility, which was established in 1946 to manufacture penicillin. Novartis would commit to penicillin API production in Europe for 10 years, despite stiff price competition from China.
The Austrian government — looking to ramp up European production of essential medicines as on-shoring manufacturing initiatives grow around the world — would kick in €50 million to fund new process technology for producing APIs. While the agreement has yet to be formally approved by either side, the two parties are expected to seal the deal by the end of this year.
“This plan is a great example of government and the private sector working closely together to protect the long-term interests of patients in Europe and beyond. Antibiotics are the backbone of modern medicine and our Kundl facility in Austria is the hub and center of the last remaining integrated production chain for antibiotics in the western world. This joint investment will help to keep it that way,” Sandoz CEO Richard Saynor said in a release.
Centogene and Molecular Health to use data to accelerate orphan drug development
Centogene and Molecular Health have joined forces to accelerate and improve the development of orphan drugs through the Real-life data and Innovative Bioinformatic Algorithms (RIBA) project, with epilepsy as the first indication. The companies will look to large, real-life data sets, artificial intelligence and computational algorithms to reduce the time and risk associated with producing an orphan drug. The data are globally sourced from 500,000 consenting patients, according to Centogene CEO Arndt Rolfs. The companies didn’t disclose how the project will be funded.
“Together with Centogene, Molecular Health’s deep scientific, medical, and computational expertise will lay the fundament for personalized healthcare options in rare diseases to fulfill the promise of precision medicine,” Molecular Health CEO Friedrich von Bohlen said in a release.
Carisma to enter Phase I trial with drug to treat HER2 overexpressing solid tumors
With FDA clearance, Carisma Therapeutics will begin a Phase I human trial of its lead candidate, CT-0508, an anti-human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) targeted chimeric antigen receptor macrophage. The “ground-breaking milestone” moves Carisma from the preclinical discovery stage to the clinical development stage, president and CEO Steven Kelly said.
HER2 is overexpressed in a variety of cancers, including breast, gastroesophageal, non-small cell lung, colorectal, bladder, and pancreatic. The clinical trial, to take place at the University of Pennsylvania and University of North Carolina, will include patients with recurrent or metastatic cancers with HER2 overexpressing solid tumors.