BacThera: Chr. Hansen and Lonza US$99m joint venture receives name and approvals
29 Aug 2019 --- BacThera is the newly dubbed 50/50 joint venture (JV) from global bioscience company Chr. Hansen and pharma contract manufacturing company Lonza. The new collaboration, which will attract €90 million in investment from the companies over the next three years, has just received the anti-trust approvals necessary for its establishment. The approvals consist of merger control clearance in the EU and China, meaning that the JV is compliant to international competition laws. With this operational green light, BacThera is now engaging with its first customers and commencing the contract manufacturing of live biotherapeutic products (LBP).
“The joint venture targets the emerging preclinical and clinical supply industry for LBP with a large upside to serve the ensuing commercial demand. This will come once the first live biotherapeutic products are approved and available for treatment,” Christian Bigum, Interim CEO of BacThera, tells NutritionInsight.
Indication areas that are currently in clinical trials by potential customers include gastrointestinal diseases, metabolic diseases (obesity, diabetes), nervous system diseases (Parkinson’s), infection diseases, oncology, skin disorders, autism and asthma. BacThera will manufacture bacteria strains from strict anaerobic microbes through to formulation and dosage forms.
“We understand the complexities of bringing pharmaceuticals to market, including the evolving regulatory environment. We will offer unique development and pharma-grade manufacturing that addresses an unmet need in the industry, enabling customers to deliver therapies for patients,” Bigum continues.
He adds that while Chr. Hansen contributes its know-how in developing, upscaling and manufacturing bacteria strains, Lonza brings capabilities in pharma contract manufacturing and formulation and drug delivery technologies.
“The JV will possess leading competences in handling, characterizing, formulating, manufacturing and encapsulating strict anaerobe bacteria. These competencies under one roof, with seamless exchanges between drug substance and drug product activities, will decrease development timelines and increase the chance of ‘right-first-time,’” he notes.
BacThera will upgrade existing facilities in Hørsholm, Denmark, as well as equip new facilities in Basel, Switzerland, where its headquarters will be located. This will take place over the next few months in order to serve preclinical to phase II projects. Further down the line, more facilities for phase III and commercial manufacturing will be developed.
The JV was first announced in April, with Christian Barker, Chr. Hansen’s Executive Vice President of Health & Nutrition, telling NutritionInsight: “What we are doing is taking the core competencies that we have, which is all about working with bacteria. Then we are applying that in the adjacent pharma industry, as we see a big opportunity there.”
BacThera’s name is a combination of the words bacteriology, therapeutic and era, which the company says are a reflection of its purpose of enabling customers to “bring life-changing treatments to patients and pioneer the live biotherapeutic industry.”
The JV will use probiotics, which are the cornerstone in LBP – bacteria-based pharmaceutical products. Yesterday, Chr. Hansen highlighted how probiotics could save the health care payer between US$784 million and US$1.4 billion through reducing work-day sickness and cutting out the associated loss in productivity.
By Katherine Durrell
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