Both Catalent Pharma Solutions and UMN Pharma say they will expand their biologics development and manufacturing interests of multiple biosimilars in the Asian market through an alliance inked today. Japan based UMN Pharma and its subsidiary UNIGEN, a contract manufacturer, will produce a number of biosimilars using Catalent’s GPEx cell lines. UMN Pharma, separately, will build an alliance of pharmaceutical companies for product development including clinical trials, marketing, and sales. UMN Pharma plans to begin multiple biosimilar projects with their alliance companies for the Asian market on an ongoing basis.

“There are great synergies between UMN Pharma and Catalent in terms of technologies, business structure, speed, and culture,” said Masahiro Michishita, executive chairman of UMN Pharma. “Harnessing Catalent’s broad biologics development and cell construction expertise gives UMN Pharma a unique platform to grow our biosimilars business globally.”

Founded in 2004, UMN Pharma now has three manufacturing facilities in Japan focused on the development of influenza vaccines based on insect cells. Supported by the Japanese government, the company currently has three 600L bioreactors for influenza vaccine production. In response to the emerging demand for influenza vaccines, new biological entities, and biosimilars, it has commissioned two additional 21,000 L units in Gifu, to be operational by 2013. UMN Pharma will then add another two 21,000 L facility by 2016.

Catalent entered the Japanese market last year with a partnership with Toyobo Biologics to launch its GPEx technology, a pseudo-typed, high-titer vector that generates stable mammalian cell lines.

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