German headquartered life science company Evotec SE has acquired 100% of the capital of Rigenerand Srl, an Italian cell technology company, for €23M ($24.7M).
Founded in 2009 as a spin-off of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy, Rigenerand is based in Medolla, Italy, about 100 km south of Evotec’s Campus Levi-Montalcini in Verona.
Rigenerand’s production facility comprises 1,200 sqm of manufacturing space, with potential for further expansion.
Evotec said the acquisition expands its cell therapy platform, EVOcells.
Dr Werner Lanthaler, Evotec’s CEO, said: “Cell therapies are an exciting emerging therapeutic modality with broad applicability across many indications. Originating from our leading iPSC (Induced pluripotent stem cells) platform, Evotec’s EVOcells platform enables the delivery of innovative cell therapeutics from inception to the patient.
“The acquisition of Rigenerand adds manufacturing capacity and expertise to the EVOcells platform. Our conversations with our partners as well as our own industry observations have made it clear that horizontal expansion and rapid iteration at the scale-up are critical within the cell therapy space.
“As we see very strong demand for our standalone Just – Evotec Biologics J.PODs in the US and EU, it is strategically the logical step to build separate capability and capacity internally. We warmly welcome the Rigenerand team into the Evotec family and are excited to leverage their skill and expertise for our partners and ultimately the patients.”
Prof. Massimo Dominici, founder and CSO of Rigenerand and Professor of Oncology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, said the field of cell therapies is rapidly expanding, with new products and novel technologies requiring R&D skills, flexibility in manufacturing and experience in pharmaceutical development.
“Evotec’s EVOcells platform and Rigenerand’s technologies and capacity to transform cells into therapeutic products combining an R&D vocation and manufacturing skills, is a unique combination with technological and logistic synergies that will make a very relevant impact in the cell therapy field,” Dominici said.
Cell therapy and EVOcells
Cell therapy is a recent and innovative therapeutic field. Cell therapies can be used to replace a patient’s dysfunctional cells, or as adoptive immunotherapy to help the immune system fight cancer.
Sources for cell therapeutics range from the patient’s own material, a healthy donor or from stem cells. The advent of iPSCs, which can be generated directly from somatic cells, has opened up stem cells as an almost unlimited source of consistent-quality material for such cell therapies.
iPSC-derived, off-the shelf therapeutics are considered to be among the most promising approaches in the cell therapy space. According to the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, iPSCs can, for example, become beta islet cells to treat diabetes, blood cells to create new blood free of cancer cells for a leukemia patient, or neurons to treat neurological disorders.
Evotec has developed EVOcells as a platform for the discovery, development and manufacturing of cell therapies. The company said its aim is to develop innovative but cost-effective therapies for large patient numbers based on human cells to cure life-threatening diseases.
Evotec’s current EVOcells project portfolio includes immuno-oncology, metabolic diseases and heart repair.
Earlier this month, Evotec partnered with Canadian company Sernova to advance a beta cell replacement therapy to treat insulin-dependent diabetes. As part of the deal, Evotec will make a €20M ($21.5M) equity investment in Sernova.
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