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DSM signs MoU with AIBN on biologics commercialisation

By Gareth MacDonald+, 20-Dec-2011

Related topics: APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients), Regulatory & Safety

DSM Biologics will work with the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) on the commercialisation of development-stage biologics projects.

According to an announcement by Anna Bligh, Queensland Premier, this week DSM “signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of Queensland’s AIBN, completing a vital link in the chain between biopharmaceutical research and manufacturing.

It gives DSM a ready-made market of research projects that are ready to move to the commercialisation stage,” she added.

DSM spokesman Herman Betten told Outsourcing-pharma.com that: “The collaboration with AIBN follows on the agreement we published in May 2010 with the Australian government to build and operate a biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Brisbane.

The A$65m (€50m) facility – which is already under construction in Brisbane, Queensland – will be owned by Biopharmaceuticals Australia (BPA), a venture set up by the state government. However, day to day manufacturing operations will be led by DSM.

Lack of biologics contracting capacity

David Hughes, Biopharmaceuticals Australia CEO, told Outsourcing-pharma.com how the relationship with DSM works, explaining that the collaboration’s overall aim is to address the lack of biologics manufacturing capacity in the country.

There is no CMO locally able to take local-origin products generated in mammalian cell cultures from preclinical to market. Because of this capability gap, there has been considerable outflow of funds from Australian biopharma drug developers to overseas CMO's.

Therefore there has been an industry-development motivation to encourage an established international player to set up an operation in Australia -and in the global context of a mature and competitive CMO sector,” Hughes said.

He added that: “BPA will be the future landlord of DSMB. DSMB will operate the facility on a fully independent commercial basis without direct involvement from BPA or AIBN. AIBN will collaborate with DSMB at various levels, including assisting with cell line construction, process development and high-level technical back-up for technically difficult client projects.

Contract biologics boom

News of the MoU comes as many contract manufacturing organisations – Catalent , Samsung Biologics , Cobra Biologics and CMC Biologics to give just four examples – are moving to add production capacity for biologic pharmaceuticals in line with customer demand.

The news also follows just months after DSM announced it was looking for a partner for its contract manufacturing business to try and diversify its business and, specifically, reduce its reliance on a few Big Pharma clients.

And – while Betten declined to say whether any progress has been made in this regard or if the deal with the AIBN played a part in such efforts – the favourable terms under which DSM will operate the Brisbane facility are likely to be attractive to potential partners.