The launch of BacThera as a joint venture (JV) company by Swiss contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Lonza and global bioscience company Chr. Hansen Holding A/S was announced earlier this year.
Marc Func, CEO of Lonza Group, told us then the JV is expected to answer a ‘clear need’ for an end-to-end solution in the contract manufacturing of live biotherapeutic products (LBPs).
The two companies have received the needed approvals from antitrust regulators and announced the start of operations at the company, which is currently engaging with its first customers.
In order to support the newly-established JV, the partners will each invest €45m ($50m) over three years, following which the company is expected to be ‘largely’ self-funding.
The company will be named BacThera, a combination of the words bacteriology, therapeutic, and era, which ‘clearly reflects’ its purpose to ‘pioneer’ the live biotherapeutic industry, according to Lonza.
Chr. Hansen's VP of Project & Resource Management, R&D, Christian Bigum, was appointed as interim CEO of BacThera. Bigum, told us that the company “will target the emerging preclinical and clinical supply for LBPs, with a large upside to serve the ensuing commercial demand,” following the first regulatory approvals.
According to Bigum, potential customers of BacThera are currently developing LBPs in clinical trials, with indications including gastrointestinal diseases, metabolic diseases (obesity, diabetes), nervous system diseases (Parkinson’s), infection diseases, oncology, skin disorders, autism, and asthma.
BacThera “will be the first CDMO to provide a full supply chain offering in manufacturing of bacteria strains for therapeutic use,” Bigum told us.
Furthermore, the company’s integrated offering will include handling, characterizing, formulating, manufacturing and encapsulating strict anaerobe bacteria.
”These competences under one roof, with seamless exchanges between drug substance and drug product activities will decrease development timelines and increase chance of ‘right-first-time’,” Bigum added.
The company will be headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. The two partners have also announced plans to upgrade existing facilities in Hørsholm, Denmark for BacThera’s operations over the coming months, as well as to equip new facilities in Basel.
The above mentioned facilities will be serving pre-clinical to Phase II manufacturing, while further facilities for Phase III and commercial manufacturing will be developed by BacThera as its pipeline matures.
According to Lonza’s CEO, BacThera’s service offering will initially be focused on process development and small batches, aiming to serve start-ups and small biotech with preclinical and clinical development projects.