Fujifilm completes acquisition of Atara's cell therapy manufacturing site near Los Angeles
In January, Atara Biotherapeutics inked a deal with Fujifilm Diosynth to exchange its California manufacturing site for $100 million upfront, and a long-term licensing deal for its allogeneic T-cell therapy platform for patients with cancer and autoimmune disease. Monday, the biotech announced that the deal has now been completed, and the partnership has begun.
Fujifilm Diosynth will now give Atara access to the flex capacity to manufacture both clinical and commercial stage therapies for tab-cel, its off-the-shelf, allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy in development for the treatment of Epstein-Barr virus positive post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease, its candidate ATA188 for multiple sclerosis, and allogeneic CAR-T therapies ATA3271 and ATA3219.
Fujifilm will also use the Thousand Oaks site for its broader portfolio of cell therapies. It will use the Atara technical operations team and their knowledge. The company gained 140 skilled employees when it took over the site.
“A visionary long term strategic partnership in allogeneic cell therapy!” CEO Pascal Touchon said in a LinkedIn post when the closing of the deal was announced.
The deal allows Atara to cut down on its operating expenses over the partnership period. The upfront investments will help fund operations into the end of next year, which will bring the company past the completion of its Phase II study of ATA188, an off-the-shelf T-cell candidate aiming to reverse disability in progressive MS.
The site, roughly 50 miles outside downtown Los Angeles, is approximately a six-hour drive from the South San Francisco corporate headquarters for the company.
The deal also helps Fujifilm, one of the fastest-growing CDMOs in the world, spread its footprint in America, particularly to the West Coast. It already pumped $2 billion into a North Carolina headquarters last fall.
In a previous interview with Endpoints News, Touchon said that he sees the allogenic cell therapy manufacturing process going the same direction as monoclonal antibodies did 20-30 years ago.
“When you control the manufacturing process, the more you can leverage other companies, the more you increase your manufacturing productivity,” he said.