Lonza enters the exosome therapy space with acquisition of still-new Codiak site
In anticipation of tackling the manufacturing problems that come with exosome therapeutics head on, Codiak BioSciences built a 12,000-square-foot manufacturing site in Lexington, MA. Tuesday, it announced that it will hand over the reins to a powerhouse CDMO.
Swiss manufacturer Lonza will acquire IP rights and the facility from Codiak in exchange for $65 million worth of manufacturing services, the companies said.
“I think we both see this as a modality that’s really coming into its own,” CEO Doug Williams said in a call with Endpoints News. “One of the things we’ve been vey proactive about as a company, really from the very founding of Codiak, is the importance of manufacturing … not just at the early stages but thinking about it as a long-term commitment. We’ve invested a lot at Codiak, and I think this deal is a recognition of the long-term investment we’ve made.”
“And we’ve now partnered with one of the best CDMOs on the planet to really fulfill the promise … and really solidifying a path to commercialization.”
Exosomes are nano-sized membrane vesicles that are secreted by many cell types, playing a role in cell-to-cell communication. Further development of the exosome platform has the potential to make cell and gene therapies available for a large patient population, Codiak said. Williams says that he thinks his company is out ahead of the pack in this field, but the Lonza deal ensures that they aren’t resting on their laurels.
Codiak will retain all IP core to its exosome engineering platform, the company said, but the two companies will create a Center of Excellence to advance exosome manufacturing technologies and Lonza will become the exclusive manufacturing partner for Codiak. That Center of Excellence — in Lexington — will use both companies’ strengths to advance exosome production, purification and analytics.
A little more than a year ago, Codiak hit Wall Street in its second attempt to go public, raising $83 million by pricing 5.5 million shares at $15. It backed out of its first IPO in July 2019 due to unfavorable market conditions but found more success during biotech’s red-hot 2020.
Codiak engineers exosomes to deliver a range of therapeutic payloads. Its focus at the time it went public was a program that uses a STING pathway agonist that was licensed from French biotech Kayla Therapeutics. About half of its IPO went toward that Phase I/II trial, while $34.3 million went to the engEx Platform. A third candidate, exoIL-12, is expected to be submitted for an investigational new drug application with the FDA by the end of this year.
“Obviously it’s a set of programs that are on the move for us right now,” Williams said.
Lonza’s SVP of cell and gene technologies, Alberto Santagostino, will take over the operations of the Lexington site, which Williams said will almost certainly see the addition of new employees in the coming years.
“We believe it’s going to co-exist and have a very important role on the overall environment,” Santagostino said in an interview. “Lonza in general terms throughout history has been extremely committed, and we found ourself to enabling those newer technologies that come to market, having a presence in exosomes today, it feels like as important as it was setting the foundation of cell and gene therapies back in the day.”