Lonza Biotec is to manufacture PEGylated antibody fragment-based drugs for Celltech under the terms of a new agreement between the two companies. The two companies have also reached an agreement on a prior deal relating to Celltech's arthritis drug CDP571.
Under the terms of the agreement, Celltech has reserved a fixed annual manufacturing capacity at Lonza Biotec's 1,000 litre and 15,000 litre fermenter systems for recombinant microbial products in Visp, Switzerland, covering the period 2004 to 2010. Lonza will provide technology transfer, scale-up, cGMP manufacturing and quality control testing services for Celltech.
Markus Gemuend, chief executive of the Lonza Group, said: "This contract is a further substantial step to strengthen our pipeline in the area of microbial biopharmaceuticals." In March, the company unveiled a €100 million project aimed at upgrading its microbial production capabilities.
Celltech has developed proprietary technology for the production of very high affinity antibody fragments in a microbial fermentation system. These antibody fragments are chemically modified using polyethylene glycol (PEG) to facilitate a long circulating half-life in patients. The company's lead drug in this project is CDP 870, an anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha antibody currently being assessed in a large Phase III programme in rheumatoid arthritis by Celltech's partner Pfizer.
After CDP 870, Celltech has three further PEGylated antibody fragment products in development and a broad portfolio of research programmes utilising thistechnology.
At the same time, Celltech and Lonza Biologics have reached settlement regarding the termination of their supply agreement for the production of Celltech's anti-TNF-alpha antibody CDP 571, which last year posted disappointing pivotal trial results in Crohn's disease.