Cobra Biologics, an international CDMO of biologics and pharmaceuticals, has announced it is to expand operations at its sites in UK and Sweden to meet the increased demand of gene and immunotherapy companies to fast track their portfolios through to in-market supply.
During the next 2 years, Cobra will invest up to £15 million on a phased expansion plan, supporting the company’s R&D expertise in developing rapid and cost-effective viral vector and DNA plasmid production platforms.
The initial phase will be in the UK and will extend the company’s viral vector Phase III and commercial manufacturing capabilities to support more customers to rapidly advance their products through clinical trials to in-market supply.
The second phase, in Sweden, will double capacity for High Quality (HQ) DNA plasmid production and characterisation, essential for supporting early clinical phase Adeno-associated virus (AAV) and lentivirus manufacture being used by pioneering CAR T-cell therapy companies targeting acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
The third phase of investment will see the addition of larger clinical and commercial capabilities for GMP DNA production. In total, it is anticipated these investments will create up to 50 new jobs, in addition to the 135 jobs already created in the UK and Sweden since 2011 and will also benefit the wider supply chain companies which provide Cobra with services and facilities.
Peter Coleman, CEO at Cobra Biologics, said: “For almost 20 years, Cobra has been manufacturing DNA and viral vectors for its gene therapy customers and we intend to stay at the forefront of this exciting field. Cobra is committed to investing for both present day needs and for the future at this extraordinary time in the history of gene therapy when so many new and potentially life-changing medicines are in the pipe line. Many of these new products have orphan drug status and as a CDMO, we need to respond with a quick and seamless production route to market.”
Greg Hands, UK International Trade Minister, welcomed the news: “This new investment by Cobra Biologics is another boost for UK life sciences, creating high-skilled jobs in Keele as the company expands its operations. It comes as global demand for gene therapy manufacturing is surging, helping put the UK at the forefront of developing revolutionary disease therapies and new treatments to be exported around the world.”
Mikael Damberg, Sweden’s Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, also commented: “Sweden is very competitive in life sciences. It is therefore gratifying to be able to welcome the investments announced by Cobra Biologics. Strengthening the life sciences sector’s opportunities to grow, employ and export products and services will pave the way for more skilled jobs in Sweden. It will also contribute to solving societal challenges in health and ageing. Of special interest is the fact that this investment is made in gene therapy, which is an important area for successful treatment of future patients.”