San­doz to ex­pand its pres­ence in Slove­nia with new $400M plant

Gener­ics man­u­fac­tur­er San­doz has com­mit­ted rough­ly $400 mil­lion to con­struct a new plant in Eu­rope.

San­doz has agreed to build a new bi­o­log­ics plant in the town of Len­da­va, Slove­nia, which is lo­cat­ed about 125 miles east of Slove­nia’s cap­i­tal of Ljubl­jana, near the bor­der with Hun­gary. In an email to End­points News, a spokesper­son said the plant will be used to man­u­fac­ture biosim­i­lars, but the com­pa­ny hasn’t yet de­ter­mined which ones.

As part of the terms of its pro­posed spin­off from No­var­tis, the San­doz spokesper­son said cur­rent biosim­i­lar pro­duc­tion and de­vel­op­ment will stay with No­var­tis, which will pro­vide CD­MO ser­vices to San­doz while it builds out its net­work. The spin­off is on track for the sec­ond half of this year, No­var­tis said in its lat­est quar­ter­ly re­port.

“To this end, San­doz is in­vest­ing to es­tab­lish its own biosim­i­lars man­u­fac­tur­ing and de­vel­op­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties for the longer term, against the back­ground of rapid­ly ris­ing fu­ture de­mand for biosim­i­lars. This in­vest­ment is an im­por­tant step in this re­gard,” the spokesper­son said.

No oth­er de­tails, such as the size of the fa­cil­i­ty, have been dis­closed, but San­doz is an­tic­i­pat­ing the site will add around 300 jobs. Work on the site is ex­pect­ed to start some­time lat­er this year, with the site be­com­ing ful­ly op­er­a­tional in 2026.

San­doz has had a pres­ence in Slove­nia for 40 years, but the spokesper­son said that Len­da­va of­fers the com­pa­ny good lo­gis­ti­cal links to oth­er San­doz pro­duc­tion sites and aca­d­e­m­ic in­sti­tu­tions near­by. Ac­cord­ing to the San­doz re­lease, the new project al­so marks one of the largest in­ter­na­tion­al pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ments in Slove­nia.

“Biosim­i­lar med­i­cines in­crease ac­cess to cut­ting-edge bi­o­log­ic ther­a­pies for the pa­tients who need them most. At San­doz, we are de­ter­mined to con­tin­ue lead­ing the way on dri­ving ac­cess to these crit­i­cal med­i­cines. This in­vest­ment un­der­scores our am­bi­tion to be the sus­tain­able glob­al leader in biosim­i­lars, a seg­ment pro­ject­ed to grow dou­ble-dig­it an­nu­al­ly over the next decade,” San­doz CEO Richard Saynor said in a re­lease.

San­doz cur­rent­ly has four lo­ca­tions and 5,000 em­ploy­ees across Slove­nia.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

Editor’s note: This is a live story and will be updated.

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

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Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

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Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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See­los Ther­a­peu­tics 'tem­porar­i­ly' stops study in rare neu­ro dis­or­der for busi­ness rea­sons

Microcap biotech Seelos Therapeutics is halting enrollment of its study in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (also known as Machado-Joseph disease) because of “financial considerations,” and in order to focus on other studies, the company said today, adding that the pause would be temporary.

The study will continue with the patients who have already enrolled, and the data from them will be used to decide whether to continue enrolling others in the future.

Alec­tor cuts 11% of work­force as it dou­bles down on late-stage neu­ro pro­grams part­nered with GSK, Ab­b­Vie

A month after revealing plans to concentrate on its late-stage immuno-neurology pipeline, Alector is trimming its headcount by 11%.

The layoffs will impact around 30 employees across the organization, the company disclosed in an SEC filing, adding that the plan will “better align the company’s resources” with the new strategy. With $712.9 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments as of the end of 2022, Alector believes the reserves will now get it through 2025.

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Hugo Peris, Spiral Therapeutics CEO

Hear­ing-fo­cused biotech grabs trio of pro­grams from Oton­o­my's fire sale

Otonomy may be shutting down, but the lessons learned there will live on at another biotech working on new treatments for hearing loss.

San Francisco-based Spiral Therapeutics has bought certain assets related to three of Otonomy’s programs, ranging from data, patent rights, and know-how to inventory. That includes data around Otonomy’s twice-failed lead program, OTO-104 (Otividex), a sustained-exposure formulation of dexamethasone.

CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

UK gov­ern­ment, pri­vate in­vestors dole out $340M+ to drug, di­ag­nos­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers

The government of the United Kingdom is giving out grants to several manufacturers that have a presence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government announced that four companies, including Ipsen, contract manufacturer Pharmaron, DNA manufacturer Touchlight and diagnostic test producer Randox, will receive a total of £277 million ($341.1 million). According to a release from the UK government, this represents the first portion of grants from the Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund.