Exothera - a company starting from R&D in small volumes then scaling out using robotics

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags R&D Manufacturing Contract manufacturing Biologics vector

Patrick Thiaville is chief scientific officer of Exothera Nucleic Acids, a viral vector CDMO (contract manufacturing and development organization) using standard and innovative bioproduction platforms to rapidly deliver affordable viral vector-based vaccines and cell and gene therapies.

During DCAT week in New York last month, Liza Laws, caught up with him for a detailed discussion about the company's roots and how it is flourishing. 

As a Univercells company, Exothera capitalizes on novel manufacturing technologies and best-in-class bioprocessing expertise to provide custom-made process optimization and GMP clinical and commercial production of viral vectors. Based on its extensive technology expertise, Exothera selects technologies to optimally answer customer needs for cost-effective and agile viral vector manufacturing.

Patrick Thiaville, the chief scientific officer (CSO) of Exothera Nucleic Acids, radiates a passion for democratizing access to biologics. "Exothera believes in making biologics available for all," he emphasizes, setting the tone for our discussion. "The question is, how do we go about that?"

Thiaville takes us on a journey through the company's intricate network of subsidiaries and their shared commitment to innovation. “We're a company of companies,” he says, “one of our entities, Quantoom Biosciences, specializes in inventing processes and equipment for nucleic acids.”

“Quantoom's lineage dates back to the pioneering bioreactor iCellis - now owned by Cytiva/Danaher - and scale-X, which has since become integral components of Donaldson's portfolio. "Our history of developing processes and techniques dates back to the iCellis era,” Thiaville explains. “These processes have undergone continuous refinement and innovation, culminating in our current expertise in nucleic acid manufacturing.”

Thiaville emphasizes the depth of knowledge within Exothera, highlighting the qualifications of its team members. “Many of our team members hold PhDs in molecular biology,” he notes. “This collective expertise enables us to maintain a profound understanding of RNA and DNA processes.”

When discussing manufacturing processes, Thiaville highlights the importance of expertise and technology. “We're solely focused on nucleic acid manufacturing,” he affirms. “This specialization positions us as leaders in the field.”

A company facilitating rapid iteration and customization

Elaborating on their approach, Thiaville explains: “We begin with R&D in small volumes and then scale out using robotics." He elucidates how this methodology ensures consistency and minimizes process variations, facilitating rapid iteration and customization to accommodate individual patient needs or large-scale production requirements.

Patrick Thiaville

“Our approach is fundamentally different from traditional manufacturing processes,” Thiaville says. “We start from R&D in small volumes and then scale out using robotics. This ensures that the process remains consistent and adaptable, whether we're producing therapeutics for individual patients or addressing large-scale production requirements.”

In addition to efficiency, Thiaville underscores Exothera's unwavering commitment to regulatory compliance and environmental responsibility. “We adhere rigorously to GMP policies,” he says. “Our equipment and processes are meticulously designed with sustainability in mind, minimizing waste and environmental impact.”

Looking towards the future, Thiaville discusses Exothera's ongoing endeavors to remain at the vanguard of therapeutic development. “We continuously monitor emerging technologies and collaborate closely with clients to address evolving market needs,” he adds. "Our agile approach enables us to pivot swiftly and adapt to shifting industry dynamics.”

Thiaville articulates the core values that drive Exothera Nucleic Acids forward in its mission to democratize access to biologics. His vision seems to extend beyond mere business objectives, encompassing a broader commitment to improving global health outcomes and fostering a more equitable healthcare landscape.

“We believe in making biologics available for all," Thiaville declares, encapsulating the essence of Exothera's mission. This is not just a business proposition; it's a moral imperative. Every individual, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status, deserves access to life-saving treatments.”

As Thiaville delves deeper into the company's history and expertise, it becomes evident that he believes the company’s journey is marked by a relentless pursuit of innovation and excellence. “Our roots trace back to the pioneering efforts of Quantoom," he explains. “From the early days of the iCellis system to our present-day focus on nucleic acid manufacturing, innovation has always been at the heart of what we do.”

Diverse backgrounds in microbiology, genetics, and bioengineering

The conversation turns to the intricacies of nucleic acid manufacturing, a field that requires both technical expertise and a deep understanding of biological processes. “Our team comprises individuals with diverse backgrounds in microbiology, genetics, and bioengineering,” Thiaville says. "This multidisciplinary approach enables us to tackle complex challenges and push the boundaries of what's possible in biologics manufacturing."

Central to its approach is a commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. “As stewards of the environment, we recognize the importance of minimizing our ecological footprint. From our manufacturing processes to our choice of materials, we strive to incorporate sustainable practices at every step of the way.”

Looking ahead, Thiaville expresses his confidence in Exothera's ability to stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving industry landscape.

“The field of therapeutic development is constantly evolving, with new technologies and methodologies emerging at a rapid pace," he observes. "At Exothera, we embrace this spirit of innovation and adaptability, constantly seeking out new opportunities to drive progress and improve patient outcomes.”

In closing, Thiaville reflects on the broader impact of the company's work and the significance of its mission in the context of global health.

“Our goal extends beyond mere profit margins; it's about making a meaningful difference in people's lives,” he reflects. “By democratizing access to biologics, we have the opportunity to transform healthcare on a global scale and ensure that no one is left behind.”

As our conversation draws to a close, Thiaville says his unwavering commitment to innovation, sustainability, and social responsibility is fierce. In a world where access to healthcare remains unequal, companies like Exothera, he says, stand as beacons of hope, illuminating a path towards a more equitable and inclusive future for all.

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