South Korean biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion is teaming up with SAFC Biosciences to improve its manufacture of biologically-active pharmaceutical ingredients (API).
The new collaboration, financial terms of which are not being disclosed, will use custom growth media developed by SAFC to increase clone productivity (the amount of API produced by each organism) in Celltrion's manufacturing processes. The overall aim is to make the South Korean firm's offering more economical and attractive to industrial clients.
A September 2007 report by Business Insights forecast that the global market for contract biomanufacturing, which was worth $2.5bn in 2006, will grow at about 5 per cent a year through to 2011. It predicted that optimization of growth media and expanding production capacity will be crucial to the success of companies operating in the sector.
The study also suggested that the success of the 350 or so biologic drugs that have been approved so far will see manufacturers increasingly turn to CMOs to provide additional production capacity, driving further expansion.
"This agreement combines the capabilities of two leading suppliers to the global biopharmaceutical industry, bringing powerful resources to bear on the high cost-of-manufacturing pharmaceuticals critical to improving the lives of so many," said Rod Kelley, SAFC Biosciences' president.
Echoing these thoughts Jung-Jin Seo, CEO of Celltrion, said: "Both companies have strong expertise in cell culture and through their combined knowledge, Celltrion will improve its productivity and development capabilities to best serve its commitment to satisfying global manufacturing services."
Long-term supply deal
Celltrion is a contract manufacturing organization (CMO) that was founded in February 2002 by US firm VaxGen and a group of Korean partners. The organisation's primary focus is the provision of scalable production capacity to the emerging biomanufacturing market, although it has recently begun expanding its in-house R&D operations.
Celltrion's flagship facility in the southern city of Incheon which, at around 215,000 square feet, is the largest in the region. The site is capable of production runs in the 50,000 to 150,000 litre range under good manufacturing practice (GMP) accredited conditions.
Previously, SAFC worked with Celltrion to provide media development support through its immediate advantage program, which supplies industrial clients with made to order culture media allowing them to bypass often expensive and time consuming development steps.
The new project will use SAFC's Cell Xpress clone selection technology and LEAP (laser-enabled analysis and processing) technology to analyze and select clones based on specific parameters, including protein secretion, thereby improving manufacturing yields.
SAFC and Celltrion envisage that, if successful, the new partnership will lead to the establishment of a long-term supply agreement.