Lonza will use its facility in Visp, Switzerland to make preclinical trial supplies of an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) being developed by Intellect Neurosciences.
The candidate drug in question - IN-NO1-OX2 or Conjumab-A - combines one of Intellect’s beta amyloid protein targeting Antisenilin antibodies with a small molecule neuroprotective compound.
Under the contract, Switzerland-based Lonza will combine the core antibody with various neuroprotective compounds from its own library for further assessment by Intellect and several unnamed ‘specialised' contract research organisations (CROs).
Work on the project has already begun according to Stefan Stoffel, Lonza head of chemical manufacturing operations, who said: "We have already generated a detailed road map for the optimisation and manufacture of Conjumab-A, and are excited to be associated with this entirely novel and promising application for antibody-drug conjugates."
The decision to develop and produce the candidate ADCs in Visp fits with plans Lonza outlined in August when it said making more high-tech, high-value pharmaceutical products and ingredients at the plant was key to increasing its competitiveness.
At the time recently appointed COO Beat In-Albon – who was called in to handle the ‘Visp Challenge ’ – said: “The focus will be on process production, process optimisation as well as the introduction of higher margin, new technology products.”
While it is hard to say how significant the Intellect contract is for Lonza – no financial terms were disclosed – the deal does underline the interest top tier contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs) have in ADC development and manufacture.
In recent years Lonza, SAFC, Goodwin Biotechnology and Piramal have invested in this type of manufacturing , while – in July – French firm Novasep invested €3m to add ADC production capacity at its plant in Le Mans.
In other news, rumours have again surfaced that BASF is interested in buying Lonza. According to a report in the Guardian the German chemicals manufacturer and Saudi Arabia’s SABIC have both expressed an interest in buying the Swiss firm for around $2.2bn.
When asked, BASF told in-Pharmatechnologist.com: "Please understand that we do not comment on rumours and speculations.” SABIC did not respond to a request for comment.