Fujifilm Selects US Cell Site, Inks Biotech Deals

23.03.2021 - Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies has chosen Holly Springs in North Carolina as the site of its new large-cell culture production site in the US. The company first announced its plans in January, saying it planned to spend more than $2 billion on the project, which will be the largest end-to-end cell culture biopharma CDMO facility in North America when it starts up by spring 2025.

The Japanese company said it chose Holly Springs because of its strong pool of technical talent, local resources and partners with the right competencies, clean energy resources and sustainability for future growth. Fujifilm already operates a facility in North Carolina, at Morrisville.

Meanwhile, parent company Fujifilm Corp. has signed an agreement to invest 100 million yen – or $919,000 – in biotech startup Cuorips. Originating from Osaka University, Cuorips is developing a treatment based on human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) for heart failure. The biotech aims to commercialize a sheet-format cell therapeutic that contains cardiomyocytes produced from iPSCs as the main ingredient.

At the same time, Fujifilm signed another deal with Cuorips gaining priority negotiation rights for contract development and manufacturing services relating to the allogeneic iPSC-derived cardiomyocyte sheet in the US.

In a second move on iPSC therapies, Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics Inc. (FDCI) – a Fujifilm subsidiary based in Madison, Wisconsin, USA – has granted Sana Biotechnology a non-exclusive right to use its technology for developing commercial cell therapies. FDCI will supply the research- and GMP-grade iPSC lines to Sana, which aims to develop cell therapies across a number of diseases. Cell therapies have potential to augment, repair or replace human organs, tissues and cells.

“Our history in manufacturing iPSCs for research-purposes has provided us with the foundational expertise to manufacture quality GMP-grade iPSC lines,” said Takeshi Yamamoto, FDCI’s CEO. “Sana is developing a broad and compelling pipeline of iPSC-derived cellular therapies, and we are pleased to grant them the rights to our iPSC platform with a vision of providing more treatment options for patients.”

Based in Seattle, Washington, Sana is a start-up led by several co-founders of Juno Therapeutics, which was bought by Celgene for about $9 billion in 2018. Just a year later, Celgene was taken over by Bristol-Myers Squibb. Last month, Sana announced it had raised $599 million in an initial public offering. The ipo is said to be the largest ever for a preclinical biotech company.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist