DENMARK – Leading global bioscience company, Chr. Hansen and Lonza AG, a pharma contract manufacturing company have formed a new joint venture to accelerate production of biotherapeutic products for pharma and biotechnology industries.

The 50:50 JV will operate from Lonza AG’s headquarters in Basel, Switzerland and will have production facilities in Denmark and Switzerland.

It will be responsible for handling, characterizing, formulating, manufacturing and encapsulating strict anaerobe bacteria while offering with seamless exchanges between drug substance and drug product activities.

The partners are investing US$101.24 million (Euros 90 million) to be shared equally between them over three years with a goal of becoming the leading contract development and manufacturing partner (CDMO), for biotech and pharma customers.

The joint venture brings together best-in-class, complementary capabilities and will be the first CDMO globally to provide a full supply chain offering manufacturing of bacteria strains for therapeutic use.

Whilst Chr. Hansen contributes its extensive know-how in developing, upscaling and manufacturing bacteria strains, Lonza brings strong capabilities in pharma contract manufacturing and outstanding formulation and drug delivery technologies.

“The joint venture is a quantum leap for Chr. Hansen’s human microbiome lighthouse,” said Mauricio Graber, CEO of Chr. Hansen.

“It’s a great opportunity to utilize our microbial capabilities in the highly attractive LBP industry whilst sticking to our strategy of not becoming a fully-fledged pharma company.

“Chr. Hansen has more than 145 years of experience in strain development and manufacturing and we are thrilled to join forces with a leading global company in the pharma CDMO market to become the partner of choice for end-to-end biotherapeutic solutions.

“The clinical trial supply industry is a rapidly emerging field, not to speak of the very large potential when the first bacteria-based medical products enter the commercial market.”

Complementary capabilities in biotherapeutic products

The JV targets to increase supply of preclinical and clinical biotherapeutic products (LBP) for use in treatment.

According to Chr. Hansen, clinical LBP supply industry globally is estimated to reach EUR 150-200 million by 2025 and by 2015, the combined clinical and commercial supply industry is estimated to exceed EUR 1 billion.

With the investment, the companies are looking to upgrade existing facilities in Hørsholm, Denmark and equip new facilities in Basel, Switzerland to serve pre-clinical to phase II projects.

According to Chr. Hansen, the JV is fully in line with its Nature’s no. 1 strategy to further utilize its microbial platform in Health and Nutrition by increasing capabilities in human microbiome.

The activities by the JV in discovery and development of the next generation of probiotics for dietary supplements and infant formula will be integrated into Chr. Hansen’ Human Health business.

“We need to think differently about how we develop solutions for manufacturing in the microbiome space as we see the potential of this therapeutic area develop,” said Mark Funk, CEO, Lonza Group.

“By teaming up with Chr. Hansen, one of the world’s largest producers of bacteria, we are combining expertise that perfectly fits the very specific needs of aspirational companies in the microbiome space.”

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of FY2019/20 subject to regulatory approvals.