General Electric (GE) announced its Q2 2016 earnings last week and reported a growth of 26% year-on-year in its bioprocessing business, incorporated within the firm’s GE Healthcare subsidiary.
During the quarter, the business - focused on upstream and downstream biomanufacturing equipment and services - hit several milestones based on its modular facility platform KUBio including the opening of a biologics plant in Wuhan, China and the striking of a strategic partnership with Pfizer.
“We believe these modularised bioprocess facilities will be the future of all biologics,” GE’s CFO Jeffrey Bornstein said in a conference call last Friday (transcript here).
The Wuhan facility, built in partnership with Chinese biopharma firm JHL, became the world’s largest modular monoclonal antibody production plant when it opened in May, and validated the KUBio platform by delivering a fully functioning cGMP biomanufacturing facility within 18 months – far quicker than the typical three year build for a traditional site.
Meanwhile, the June deal with Pfizer – part of Pfizer’s $350m (€315m) investment into a new biosimilars plant – will see GE build a modular facility in Hangzhou, China equipped with multiple 2,000L single-use bioreactors to support the pharma giant’s biosimilar portfolio.
The concept of a modular bioprocessing plant has been discussed for a number of years as drugmakers look to more efficient and flexible ways to address shift from the blockbuster drug development model to more targeted, niche therapeutics.
For the three months ending June 30, GE Healthcare reported sales of $4.5bn, though as well as bioprocessing, this incorporates imaging and ultrasound systems, and a number of life sciences products including spectrophotometry, electrophoresis, quantitive imaging and blotting.