Joint Ventures, Manufacturing, Microbiome

European players set up one-stop bacterial strain shop for microbiome-focused drug developers

The fertile microbiome field is gathering more steam in Europe. Swiss pharma contract manufacturer Lonza is joining forces with Denmark’s bioscience firm Chr Hansen in a joint venture, engineered to enable a supply chain for ‘good’ bacterial strains tailored for therapeutic use.

Microbiome-based therapeutics today is a fecund field for drug developers — big and small — capitalizing on science that suggests flushing ‘good’ gut bacteria into the system can treat a plethora of conditions — from C. diff infection to obesity — using different therapeutic modalities, some of which are designed to sidestep the “ick” factor associated with traditional stool transfer or fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT).

But as drug firms work on their concoctions, they are increasingly facing manufacturing hurdles, including limited choices for contract manufacturing organizations who tend to “shun work with spore-forming bacteria,” companies grumbled at a microbiome summit last year.

The 50/50 JV combines the ability of Chr Hansen — which produces natural products such as cultures, enzymes and bacterial strains for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries — with Lonza’s contract manufacturing as well as formulation and drug delivery technologies as a one-stop shop for handling, characterizing, formulating, manufacturing and encapsulating strict anaerobe bacteria to serve the burgeoning field.

“Given the current number of ongoing pre-clinical to phase III drug trials, the clinical supply industry globally is estimated to reach €150-200 million by 2025. By 2035, the combined clinical and commercial supply industry is estimated to exceed €1 billion,” the companies said on Tuesday.

The JV will be headquartered in Basel, and have production facilities in Denmark and Switzerland. Roughly €90 million (about $101.2 million) will be shared by the two partners to shore up pharma-compliant production over three years.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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