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Ahead of US gene ther­a­py ex­plo­sion, big con­tract drug man­u­fac­tur­er Catal­ent makes $1.2 bil­lion bet on Paragon Bioser­vices

As drug developers aggressively pursue gene therapies and their makers, the manufacturing end of the supply chain is also fortifying itself for the wave of therapies expected to hit the market in the coming years. Less than a month after Thermo Fisher unveiled a $1.7 billion deal to swallow Brammer Bio — a company that does contract viral vector manufacturing for cell and gene therapy developers — Catalent is planning to fork over $1.2 billion for private-equity backed Paragon Bioservices.

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As­traZeneca chops 210 work­ers, clos­es sites as it looks to con­cen­trate bi­o­log­ics man­u­fac­tur­ing in one place

AstraZeneca is closing down two manufacturing sites in Colorado that collectively employed 210 workers, in an apparent effort to consolidate its biologics supply chain.

First reported in a WARN notice on Tuesday, the layoffs are “unrelated” to the organizational changes announced a day prior, spokesperson Michele Meixell told me in an email.
The closure of Boulder and Longmont is simply a decision to consolidate the biologics manufacturing network in one large-scale drug substance facility (our site currently operating in Frederick, MD) in order to improve efficiency in our global biologics supply chain.
The major shakeup AstraZeneca unveiled just ahead of the JP Morgan conference involved the recruitment of José Baselga — following his controversial exit from Memorial Sloan Kettering — to head up oncology R&D, which now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with a biopharmaceutical R&D unit led by Mene Pangalos. The commercial operations are also being rejigged into two units to mirror the new structure.

WuXi AppTec files for pub­lic list­ing in Hong Kong four months af­ter ex­plo­sive Shang­hai IPO

Since going public in Shanghai this May, WuXi AppTec has more than tripled its share price. It’s now looking to take the momentum to Hong Kong.

The powerhouse contract research organization has filed for an IPO, eyeing a massive offering that could fetch more than $1 billion, anonymous sources tell Bloomberg, on the heels of several big IPOs by Ascletis, BeiGene and Hua Medicine.

Unlike these biotechs, which Hong Kong’s new rules are meant to attract, WuXi has been generating a sizable revenue. It’s also been expanding its global operations, with subsidiary WuXi Biologics blueprinting several manufacturing sites in Shanghai, Shijiazhuang and Worcester, MA. WuXi Biologics is currently listed in Hong Kong, having raised $509 million last June.

Catal­ent inks $133M deal to buy Ju­niper Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, adding UK de­vel­op­ment ser­vices

The biopharma contract developer and manufacturer Catalent $CTLT has swooped in to buy out Juniper Pharmaceuticals $JNP for $133 million, adding their services with an eye to amping up its early drug development offerings in the UK.

The buyout — at $11.50 a share — brings 150 staffers and their Juniper Pharma Services division in Nottingham. Catalent is looking to add their expertise on formulation development, bioavailability solutions and clinical-scale oral dose manufacturing to the company’s global operations. The company also manages the Crinone (progesterone gel) franchise.

Clin­i­cal tri­al dis­rup­tor Sci­ence 37 in talks with Soft­Bank on a $150M in­vest­ment — Re­code

Just a few months after pharma giant Novartis partnered up with Science 37 on its virtual approach to clinical trial work, Recode reports that the would-be CRO disruptor is in talks with SoftBank execs on a $150 million investment.

SoftBank, which provided Roivant chief Vivek Ramaswamy with more than a billion dollars to invest in biotech, evidently has been drawn to Science 37’s promise that it can efficiently and effectively recruit patients for clinical trials without forcing them into a trial site. Using new telemedicine tech, they say they can accumulate clean datasets to show whether or not new drugs are working — hoping to disrupt the big players who now dominate the CRO world.

List­ing in Shang­hai, WuXi AppTec rais­es a $354M IPO for Chi­na R&D fa­cil­i­ties

One day after Hong Kong’s stock exchange scored its first pre-revenue IPO application, Shanghai Stock Exchange got its own time in the limelight as global CRO WuXi AppTec hauled in $354 million (RMB2.3 billion) by going public in Shanghai.

While the final amount fell short of the $900 million cited in its filing, WuXi’s shares shot up immediately after they became available, surging 44% to $4.89 (RMB31.1) from the IPO price of RMB21.6 — hitting the Shanghai’s daily increase ceiling for newly listed shares.

Tap­ping a biotech boom, Chi­na gene edit­ing CRO Bio­cy­to­gen bags $65M round for glob­al ex­pan­sion

Money is flowing in and out of China, and it’s touching every part of the ecosystem. Today, a Chinese CRO specializing in animal models for gene editing and targeting spread the word that it has reaped a $65 million Series C round led by domestic investors.

Biocytogen says the proceeds will go toward opening up markets both in China and overseas, product R&D, facility construction and talent recruitment. CMB International Capital Corporation, the financial arm of China Merchants Bank, led the round, with support from existing investors like SDIC Venture Capital Management (Series B lead), 3E Bioventures, Cowin Capital and Oriza Holdings.

Eye­ing growth in re­gen­er­a­tive med­i­cine, Fu­ji­film spends $800M on two new mem­bers of its CD­MO busi­ness

In a sign that it’s doubling-down on the contract manufacturing and development business, Japan’s Fujifilm is paying $800 million to acquire two companies specializing in cell culture media.

Both companies, Irvine Scientific Sales Company (ISUS) and IS Japan (ISJ), were previously owned by Japanese petroleum giant JXTG. Cell therapies, including CAR-T and regenerative stem cell therapies, will be a key focus, Fujifilm writes in a detailed statement mapping out its plans.

Glob­al CRO Parex­el woos out­sourc­ing vet­er­an Jamie Mac­don­ald to the helm

Top-10 CRO Parexel is bringing in an experienced hand to take the helm.

Co-founder Josef von Rickenbach — a familiar face in the outsourcing world — is stepping up to concentrate on the chairman’s spot after guiding the company for the past 35 years. And he’s being replaced in the CEO suite by Jamie Macdonald, who not so long ago headed INC Research before its merger with inVentiv and rebranding as Syneos.

Charles Riv­er bags a ri­val CRO play­er in $800M MPI Re­search buy­out

The ongoing consolidation of the CRO business is continuing this morning as Charles River Laboratories $CRL wraps up an $800 million cash deal to acquire MPI Research, one of its biggest competitors in the preclinical sphere.

The early-stage specialists at Charles River saw a sweet lineup of discovery services at the 25-year-old MPI that fits with its own mission in the industry.

Charles River is a buyer in the CRO world. Just weeks ago it acquired KWS BioTest and its in vivo and in vitro discovery services for £15 million (roughly $20 million) up front. And it’s been wracking up a long string of acquisitions over the past few years as top players continue to carve out market share.