Novartis makes acquisition to buildout CAR-T capabilities

By Ben Hargreaves contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Kritchanut)
(Image: Getty/Kritchanut)

Related tags: Novartis, CellforCure, CAR-T, Kymriah

Novartis will acquire French CDMO, CellforCure, to expand its cell and gene therapy manufacturing network.

CellforCure, a contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO), owns a manufacturing site in Les Ulis, France. Novartis is set to acquire the organisation from its parent company, LFB, and will add the 3,600m2​ Les Ulis facility to its manufacturing network.

Previously, Novartis had established a deal​ that saw it select CellforCure for the manufacture of its chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T treatment, Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel).

Technology transfer between the companies had been completed prior to this latest announcement, with Novartis revealing that it expects production to begin by mid-2019. The facility may be used, however, to boost production in other areas of Novartis’ cell and gene portfolio.

Novartis’ global head of technical operations, Steffen Lang, said in a statement, “The proposed acquisition of CellforCure is another strategic step in our pursuit of additional manufacturing capacity to make our transformational CAR-T cell therapy Kymriah available to more patients in need around the world. If completed, this acquisition also would potentially increase manufacturing capacity for other cell and gene therapies in the Novartis pipeline.”

The move is the latest step Novartis has taken to bolster its internal production capacity for cell and gene therapies. It is also investing CHF90m (€79m) in building a new facility in Stein​, Switzerland, that will also focus on cell and gene therapies – adding 450 new positions over the next three years.

CellforCure is also working with Cellectis to produce an allogeneic CAR-T product, which gained approval to enter clinical trials​ in the US in June of last year.

Novartis noted that it expects the deal to close in the first half of 2019 and would be funded through available cash – though specific cost details were not disclosed.

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