South Korean drugmaker SK looks to take over Philly CDMO's operations
The holding company of a South Korean vaccine maker is in the final talks to make an investment into a US gene therapy firm.
SK Biosciences is in the process of signing a deal with the Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CBM), a Philadelphia-based CDMO. If finalized, the deal will come eight months after SK’s takeover of the French gene and cell therapy company Yposkesi.
With this move, SK takes itself a step closer to establishing a value chain of synthetic and bio pharmaceuticals in the US, Europe and Asia by 2025, the company’s head of the investment center Lee Dong-hoon said in a presentation. The CBM is known for its production of plasmid DNA. With SK’s investment, it will expand manufacturing facility in the Cellicon Valley cell and gene therapy cluster by 699,654 square feet.
That project will be completed by 2025, The Korea Herald says.
CBM was established in 2019 and offers fully-integrated pre-clinical through commercial manufacturing capabilities that include process development, plasmid DNA, and viral vector manufacturing, cell banking, cell processing, and a full suite of testing and analytic capabilities. The financing is set to close in December.
“We are thrilled by the opportunity to join forces with SK Inc., the perfect strategic partner to enable CBM’s core mission of expediting the path to approval for cell and gene therapies for patients in need,” said co-founder of CBM Audrey Greenberg in a press release. “SK’s mission of delivering value and happiness for all, culture of safety and quality, emphasis on ESG values, and global reach creates an ideal match for CBM. SK has a strong biopharma portfolio, including considerable investments in cell & gene therapy companies creating enormous strategic value for CBM. The SK CBM partnership will bring capacity to a starved CGT marketplace and expedite the delivery of new therapies to patients who need them now.”
SK expanded its vaccine production in a big way over the summer, after it announced it would invest $132 million in production capacity in mRNA and viral vector operations in a project set to be operational by 2024. That expansion will add more than 1 million square feet of production space in Andong, and was the first site in the country to get the OK for Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing on the continent.
It also received backing from CEPI, a coalition that backed both Moderna and Oxford, and with it, $173.4 million to finish its clinical trials and scale up manufacturing to work on a vaccine that delivers at low doses.