A majority stake in Irish biotechnology contract services firm Archport has been snapped up by German-based Chemie Uetikon as the bio-outsourcing market heats up.
Uetikon said it has acquired 80 per cent share in Archport as part of an overall expansion scheme and will now provide significant investment at the site, including 30 new bio-processing jobs.
The business was set up by Dublin City University (DCU) back in 1998 when bioprocessing was still a relatively new concept in Ireland and the university, where the facilities are based, will hold onto the remaining 20 per cent stake.
Archport currently provides pharma firms with GMP compliant animal cell culture and purification of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for clinical trial or market supply, such as recombinant proteins, gene therapy products and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs); scale-up of mammalian or insect cell culture and purification processes and joint R&D services.
In contrast, Uetikon's main business activities include providing services such as custom synthesis, production of generic API's and orphan drugs, as well as delivery of various key intermediates and specialty chemicals.
Therefore, the acquisition serves to "broaden the company's technology base enabling it to become a complete systems partner of the global pharmaceutical sector," according to a statement released by the firm.
Uetikon, a division of the large Swiss based firm Chemie and Papier Holdings, already has purpose-built biopharmaceutical laboratories on the DCU campus, although it may have made a wise move indeed by cementing its foothold in the bipoharma arena.
The number of biologic drugs, such as therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines, coming through the pharma pipelines is escalating - market analyst Datamonitor predicts that around 60 per cent of revenue growth between now and 2010 will come from these biologic products, while small molecules are set to grow less than one per cent annually.
By 2008 over 50 per cent of biopharma companies will outsource at least some aspect of their biomanufacturing activities, up from 35 per cent in 2004, according to a report from UK business intelligence firm Piribo.
As a result, the number of contract biomanufacturing organisations (CBMOs) that specialise in the production of biopharma products, is already rapidly expanding.