Northway Biotech sets up shop in Boston hub, looking to court more customers with biologics-focused plant
Getting a foot in the door in Boston’s bustling biopharma hub is a rite of passage for many companies, but it comes with a steep price tag. Lithuanian CDMO Northway — now with a new moniker — will set up a new plant in close proximity, and it’s hoping its biologics focus will find a willing customer base.
Northway Biotech (formerly Northway Biotechpharma) on Wednesday held a virtual grand opening ceremony for its $40 million Waltham, MA facility — a 30,000 square-foot cGMP manufacturing and process development plant that will widely expand on the company’s previous capabilities.
Citing a desire to get its feet into the Boston-area hub, Northway set up its new plant to focus on cell-line development, drug substance manufacturing, aseptic filling and end-to-end services for both microbial and mammalian biologics.
Expected to be fully operational by the final quarter of 2021, Northway said in a press release that the facility already has fully established labs for process, analytical method development and quality control that have been supporting client projects for the past six months or so. Once fully operational, the site will host 500-liter microbial and 2,000-liter mammalian bioreactors.
It was an important “strategic milestone” for the company, which has been in operation since 2004 in Lithuania and in London, Northway CEO Vladas Algirdas Bumelis said in a statement.
“We are very excited about this expansion and are poised to support our next-door partners in the Boston biotech hub, as well as other domestically or internationally located companies, by enabling accelerated development and manufacturing of their novel, life-saving biopharmaceuticals for clinical or commercial needs,” he said.
Northway’s Waltham site marks the latest biotech foray into Boston’s rapidly growing biotech hub, which is bursting at the seams as it expands into neighboring cities. In early 2020, for example, Endpoints News reported that only 0.8% of lab space was vacant and still available for rent in the area, while nearby East Cambridge (home to Kendall Square) was entirely occupied — even with the high rent average of near $110 per square foot.
Just this week, BioMed Realty announced a deal for nearly 1.3 million square feet worth of space in Somerville, just five miles from Boston, and is seeking out tenants for what will become a major site in one of the world’s premier biotech spaces.
Also of note recently in the Boston area, Bristol Myers Squibb in August inked a deal for a 360,000 square-foot lease at Cambridge Crossing, part of a 43-acre life sciences hub being built on the city line between Cambridge and Somerville.
As for Northway, the company has also waded into the Covid-19 therapeutics arena of late. The company in August partnered with Memo Therapeutics, a Swiss biotech, to manufacture Memo’s antibody candidate over a four-month fast-track process. The drug candidate, generated from convalescent Covid-19 donors, focused on picomolar neutralizing activity, the companies said in an initial press release.
In December, soon after the initial fast-track process concluded, Memo announced that the candidate was 100% effective in preventing and treating Covid-19 in hamsters, and that the drug was headed toward a first-in-human trial in the first quarter of this year.