The biotechnology firm said that a spin-off of the facility – which operates as Cell Therapeutics Europe Sede Secondaria (CTE) - could reduce its burn rate by around $14m a year. The Bresso facility was formerly NovusPharma, a spin out of Roche/Boehringer Mannheim, which CTI acquired in 2004.
The unit could make a good addition for either a contract research organisation (CRO) or pharmaceutical manufacturer, according to CTE president Dr. Christina Waters.
CTI already sells one product, the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma drug Zevalin (ibritumomab tiuxetan), and recently formed a joint venture with oncology Spectrum Pharmaceuticals to boost the sales activities for the drug, which made $2.6m in the third quarter of 2008.
But at the moment the firm is still in the throes of bursting out of the development-stage company cocoon, and is still focusing a lot of resources on the development of Zevalin in new indications such as first-line treatment in NHL, and follow-up NHL drug pixantrone.
“As CTI transitions from a research-based operation to a commercial drug company, it has been transferring resources to its U.S. sales and marketing operations," said Dr. James Bianco, CTI’s chief executive.
"We are refocusing our resources on late-stage and marketed products, and as such, CTI needs to reduce its preclinical operations."
The Bresso lab employs 50 scientists and focuses on oncology research in the areas of target discovery, lead discovery and optimisation and preclinical development. Bundled with the sale is a range of internal drug development projects, including preclinical discovery projects but also compounds that have advanced to Phase II testing.
The facility is a “GLP-compliant research and development asset that has a proven track record in advancing molecules from discovery to clinic,” said Waters.
CTI said it has engaged the services of a strategic advisory consulting firm, Adjuvant Global Advisor, to looking into “a partnership, asset divestment or joint venture,” involving CTE.