Cobra Biologics, a contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO), focusing on viral vector drug substance production, entered into a partnership with the contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) Symbiosis Pharmaceutical Services in 2018. The aim of the collaboration was to increase their capabilities in viral vector production and answer the increasing demands of the biopharma industry.
After the 18-month collaboration, the companies completed an investment of £4.8m ($6.09m), including a £1.9m ($2.41m) grant received under the UK Governments’ Innovate UK Health and Life Sciences Programme.
The investment sees Cobra develop three further viral vector suites in its facility at Keele, UK, coming online in 2020, while Symbiosis increased the number of available slots in its manufacturing facility in Stirling, Scotland.
Through this collaboration, both companies will see a significant increase in commercial capacity and a simplified supply chain process for the manufacture of viral vectors used in gene therapy and immunotherapies.
Customers of Cobra and Symbiosis are expected to see enhanced manufacturing capabilities for viral vector production projects, with reduced risk and accelerated timelines for drug development.
Per the collaboration, Cobra and Symbiosis will be able to take on new customers clinical and commercial projects, as well as help more and more cell and gene therapy medicines reach the market.
According to Peter Coleman, CEO of Cobra, the investment included:
- Technical visits to each other’s sites – looking at the assessment of operational interfaces, overview and testing of project management systems, the assessment of current capabilities including cold chain processes and to identify any potential gaps
- Quality efforts to optimise the interface between both companies quality systems
- Business development, co-promotion of the companies aligned service offerings at conferences and directly with potential clients
- Streamlining of business processes to support effective project management
For Symbiosis’ part, Colin MacKay, CEO, said that with the completion of the collaboration, the joint service offering is ‘greater than the sum of the parts’.
Specifically, he said the expanded services are suited for clients looking to “rapidly and competitively advance the development of their personalized medicines, and advanced therapy medicinal product viral vector drug therapies, in particular, to the clinic and subsequently to the market.”
Facilitating the development of viral vectors and other ATMPs in the UK, according to MacKay, “is not only astute but will generate tangible value which will benefit the UK, the CDMOs receiving grants alongside their respective clients, and ultimately the patients most in need of those innovative medicines.”
The two partners are now looking to further optimise the aligned service, while MacKay said that future collaboration on further grant projects ‘remains a real possibility’.