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Lonza enters 90m euro JV to develop biotherapeutic products

SWISS biotech company Lonza has entered into a 50/50 joint venture (JV) with Danish bioscience company Chr. Hansen to invest about 90 million euros (S$136.6 million) over three years to develop live biotherapeutic products (LBP).

The joint venture targets the emerging pre-clinical and clinical supply industry for LBP. Mainboard-listed Lonza said the global clinical supply industry is estimated to reach 150-200 million euros by 2025.

The company said this is the first contract development and manufacturing partner (CDMO) globally to provide a full supply chain that offers manufacturing of bacteria strains for therapeutic use.

In pharmaceuticals, CDMOs provide contract services from drug development through to drug manufacturing.

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The project will encompass handling, characterising, formulating, manufacturing and encapsulating strict anaerobe bacteria. Lonza said having these capabilities under one roof will allow seamless exchanges between drug substance and drug product activities and decrease development timelines and increase chances of “right-first-time”.

Marc Funk, CEO, Lonza Group said: "We understand the complexities of bringing pharmaceuticals to market, including the evolving regulatory environment and will offer unique development and pharma-grade manufacturing that addresses an unmet need in the industry, enabling customers to deliver therapies for patients.”

The joint venture will upgrade existing facilities in Horsholm, Denmark, and equip new facilities in Basel, Switzerland, to serve pre-clinical to phase II projects, said Lonza. Further facilities for phase III and commercial manufacturing will be developed as the pipeline matures. 

An initial 45 million euros will be spent, with an additional 45 million euros tagged on once customer demand for clinical phase three and commercial supply is confirmed, said the company. The joint venture is expected to be largely self-funding after the production set-up has been established.