Univercells spins out viral vector CDMO to meet capacity demands

By Vassia Barba

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/tadamichi)
(Image: Getty/tadamichi)

Related tags Univercells Viral vector cell and gene therapy

Univercells announces the launch of Exothera, a CDMO focusing on viral vectors to support cell and gene therapy developers.

The newly-created Belgium-based contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) will focus on process development and good manufacturing practice (GMP) clinical and commercial production of viral vectors and will be fully funded by Univercells 

While announcing the launch, the bioprocessing services provider said that Exothera was created to help alleviate “the two most critical challenges manufacturers face in bringing these vital therapies to market: a structural lack of capacity and scarcity of bioprocessing expertise.”

Exothera will be housed at a 15,000-square-meter site in Jumet, Belgium, recently acquired by Univercells, which will be equipped with laboratories, cleanrooms, and GMP-qualified manufacturing areas.

Initiation of operations at the site will be combined with an ‘extensive hiring effort’, according to the company, to recruit PhD scientists, manufacturing experts and laboratories technicians.

Hugues Bultot, CEO of Univercells, who has also taken over as the CEO of Exothera, said that the aim of the new CDMO is to ‘foster the success’ of cell and gene therapies while overcoming the industry’s ‘production constraints’.

The newly-established CDMO will seek opportunities to support development of coronavirus vaccines, while it would also provide its services to support Univercells’ vaccine development projects.

The parent company is developing measles and rubella (M&R) vaccine biomanufacturing processes, focusing on reduced manufacturing costs, in order to distribute the products to low- to middle-income countries, under funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation​.

A growing network

The spin off by the company follows the launch of a subsidiary​ earlier this year, after receiving €50m ($54m) funding from Gamma Biosciences.

A spokesperson for the company told us at the time that a ‘comprehensive approach’ to streamline its operations would enable the development of additional services to support the ‘fast-growing’ gene therapy segment. These services included a ‘range’ of solutions for viral manufacturing.

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