Manufacturing Vertex and Lonza Join Forces to Open New Manufacturing...

Vertex and Lonza Join Forces to Open New Manufacturing Facility for the Former’s T1D Therapies

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Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Lonza have announced a strategic partnership to construct a new joint manufacturing facility in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The primary focus of the facility will be to assist in the manufacturing of Vertex’s experimental therapies for Type 1 diabetes (T1D), which are derived from stem cells and known as islet cell therapies. Specifically, the facility will support the production of Vertex’s VX-880 and VX-264 programs.

Both therapies are currently undergoing clinical trials, with VX-880 in a phase I/II trial. Data presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 83rd Scientific Sessions showed that all 6 participants treated with VX-880 demonstrated improved glycemic control and a reduction or elimination of reliance on insulin.

In patients with more than 90 days of follow-up using VX-880 engrafted islet cells, a reduction or elimination of hypoglycemic events was observed, and the cells produced endogenous insulin (C-peptide) during the evaluation period.

VX-264, on the other hand, acts as an immunoprotective device that encapsulates the cells, protecting them from the body’s immune system to prevent immunosuppression. The program is currently undergoing a phase I/II trial for Type 1 diabetes and employs fully differentiated islet cells that produce insulin, just like the VX-880 therapy.

The facility will be dedicated to the commercial production of Vertex’s T1D cell therapy portfolio and will also focus on hypo immune cell therapies currently in preclinical development. 

Construction on the 30,000-square-foot facility is expected to begin later this year, and once equipped, it is projected to employ 300 staff members. Both partners will co-invest in the construction of the facility, which will work alongside Lonza’s global cell and gene technologies manufacturing network.

This project is part of Lonza’s larger global expansion plan, which is estimated to cost up to $935 million. Prior to the announcement of this facility in Portsmouth, Lonza debuted a new laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts to further enhance its early development services sector in North America.

With the expanded program, the companies will be able to assist customers in identifying and addressing issues with drug candidates in the early stages of development, reducing the risk of failure in clinical trials. The facility will also increasingly focus on supporting preclinical-stage small and mid-sized biotechs working on the development of biologic drugs.

In addition to the collaborative facility in Portsmouth, Lonza is also working on another facility in the same location. This facility will span over 32,000 square feet and cost the company $220 million. It is expected to open later this year and will be equipped with eight 2,000-liter single-use bioreactors, employing approximately 250 people.

During the previous trading session, VRTX closed down 0.33% at $347. However, in premarket trading on Monday, the firm recovered and experienced an increase of over 1%, reaching over $350 in stock value.

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