Wacker Chemie to Buy California CDMO Genopis

05.02.2021 - German chemical producer Wacker Chemie is acquiring 100% of San Diego, California- headquartered CDMO Genopis from its two South Korean owners, Helixmith and Medivate Partner, both based in Seoul.

Under the terms of the deal, Wacker will pay $39 million at closing, expected during the current quarter, in addition to further performance-related payments. The German group said it will continue Genopis' existing customer relationships, foremostly in the large US market for biologics, where it hopes to develop a local presence.

The CDMO incorporated in 2018 operates a specialized, 500-liter-capacity fermentation line for the manufacture and purification of pDNA, which can be used either directly for nucleic acid-based gene therapies and vaccines or as a starting point for the therapeutic agents. BioNTech, Moderna and CureVAc use it to manufacture messenger RNA (mRNA) for their Covid-19 vaccines.

Genopis is currently building additional small-scale fermentation and downstream processing facilities for pDNA at San Diego, where Wacker said the company’s 40-member workforce is experienced in producing the substances according to cGMP guidelines.

In future projects, Wacker and Helixmith plan to collaborate on the production of a pDNA gene therapy developed by the Korean company for treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). As a CDMO, the Munich group will manufacture the substance, VM202, which is currently in clinical trials. Wacker said it could also manufacture other pDNA products developed by Helixmith at the new San Diego site.

Seungshin Yu, CEO of Helixmith, said a partnership with Wacker, which regards itself as one of the world`s leading microbial drug CDMOs, would provide a “significant boost” to the Korean firm.

For Wacker, “acquiring Genopis is an ideal way to complement our existing activities as a contract manufacturer of biopharmaceuticals and vaccines,” said Susanne Leonhartsberger, president of Wacker Biosolutions.

For several decades, Leonhartsberger noted, Wacker Biotech has manufactured therapeutic proteins, live microbial products and vaccines for clinical development and commercial supply at its sites in Jena, Halle and Amsterdam. 

Buying Genopis is a “further logical step in providing our customers with optimal support in the development and production of nucleic acid-based actives and innovative forms of therapy,” the Biosolutions president said.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist