Drug developer 4D Pharma said today it has acquired the production assets of Instituto Biomar, a contract research organization specializing in microbial fermentation, for up to €6 million ($6.8 million).

The deal comes two years after 4D began tapping Biomar for outsourced development work. 4D said it has been working with Biomar on development projects generated by the MicroRx platform, as well as providing a secondary or backup facility for both the Thetanix and Blautix programs.

“The facilities and experience of the team at Biomar have the capability to translate research programs from our laboratories through clinical development to support initial production requirements. The work to date has shown the flexibility of the facility and the team at Biomar and, with the potential to expand the facility further, 4D made the decision to acquire Biomar's production assets,” said the company.

“As our pace of development continues, with more of our programs moving towards the clinic, 4D needs continued access to its own facilities to meet the challenges of our ambitious clinical development programs, but also in looking forward to our initial production requirements,” Alex Stevenson, 4D’s CSO, said in a statement.

He added: “Over the past 12 months, we have witnessed first-hand the issues of relying on third-party providers for the production of our product for clinical and development programs.”

In February, 4D delayed the dosing of patients in a Phase I trial of its candidate Thetanix for pediatric Crohn's disease, citing “quality concerns that have come to light at one of our supply partners during manufacture of an additional batch of Thetanix.” 

Established in 1996, Biomar is based in León, Spain, and initially focused on research into marine microorganisms and their use in pharmaceutical, bioenergy, and food production. In 2001 it began to expand its technologies into microbial fermentation, providing contract services in this field and expanding its production capabilities up to 3000 liters in 2010.

4D Pharma, based in Leeds, U.K., agreed to pay €2 million (about $2.3 million) cash, and another €1 million ($1.1 million) by issuing 82,349 shares of its stock at a price of £9.805—the average mid-market price of a 4D share for the 5 business days immediately preceding completion of the deal.

4D Pharma also agreed to pay up to €3 million ($3.4 million) cash tied to achieving GMP certification for the production of live biotherapeutics at the León facility.

Following completion of the deal, Biomar will become 4D Pharma León, a Spanish-based subsidiary of the buyer. According to 4D Pharma, 13 current Biomar staffers will move over to 4D León, with the expectation that another 5 staffers will be recruited over the next 6 months.

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