Sartorius to bring Wave Biotech AG into the fold

By Phil Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Biotechnology

Disposable bioreactor specialist Wave Biotech AG of Switzerland has been snapped up by its commercial and development partner Sartorius-Stedim for an undisclosed sum.

Sartorius-Stedim has been selling Wave’s line of bioreactors and fermentation and cell culture equipment since 2006, and has clearly now decided that there is value in bringing the range in-house.

The Swiss company should not be confused with Wave Biotech LLC, which also makes single-use bioreactor technologies and was bought by GE Healthcare last year.

Wave’s products are expected to bring in around €10m in sales this year – a drop in the ocean when compared to Sartorius-Stedim Biotech’s recently reported nine-month 2008 sales of €273m.

But Sartorius Stedim believes that Wave’s disposable bioreactors answer a growing demand in biologics production for single-use reactors, which offer more flexible process designing and significantly lower costs for cleaning and validation than stainless steel-based alternatives. There has been a concerted move from using disposables in processing as well as just fluid handling, and Wave has positioned itself to answer that shift.

In making this move, we are reinforcing our position in the fast-growing segment of single-use systems for cell cultivation over the long run​,” said Dr. Joachim Kreuzburg, CEO of Sartorius Stedim Biotech.

Wave and Sartorius-Stedim have partnered on research into single-use bioreactors as well, collaborating on the development of the Biostat CultiBag for cultivation of shear-sensitive cells.

Growth in disposables is coming at a time when demand for Sartorius Stedim’s own line of bioprocessing and bioanalytical equipment is softening. Third-quarter biotech sales were down 3 per cent year-on-year, which Sartorius Stedim said was a result of “delayed or restricted drug approvals​” in North America affecting companies such as Amgen and Genentech.

The company said in a conference call that it did not believe it had lost any market share in North America, with local suppliers equally affected by the operating environment, said Kreuzburg in a conference call.

European sales did better, but a strong first-half performance was undermined by a lacklustre performance in the third quarter with orders “sluggish​”, particularly for equipment, according to Kreuzburg.

The acquisition, which is subject to clearance by the antitrust authorities, is expected to be completed in before the end of the year. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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