Fujifilm said today it intends to expand its ability to develop and manufacture biopharmaceuticals and regenerative medicine treatments by acquiring a pair of cell culture media businesses owned by Japan-based JXTG Holdings for a combined $800 million.

Fujifilm plans to acquire all outstanding shares of Irvine Scientific (ISUS) and IS Japan (ISJ) and incorporate the businesses into its existing contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) unit Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.

Both companies to be acquired serve biopharmas and academic institutions by offering culture media for biopharmaceutical production, in vitro fertilization, and cell therapy. Irvine Scientific distributes mainly in the U.S. and Europe, while IS Japan distributes mainly in its namesake country as well as across Asia.

“The market for cell culture media is expanding following the dramatic growth in the demand for biopharmaceuticals centered around antibody drugs and the increasing need for treatments using cells, and its annual growth is expected to be approximately 10% going forward,” Fujifilm said in a statement. “With acquisition of ISUS and ISJ, Fujifilm will now be able to provide a broad product portfolio from biopharmaceuticals to in vitro fertilization and cell therapy, strengthening its global business.”

Among advantages Fujifilm cited as being gained through the dual acquisitions:

  • Further expansion of the CDMO business for biopharmaceuticals,
  • Acceleration of research and development regenerative medicine,
  • Further expansion of the reagent business.

Founded in 1970, privately held Irvine Scientific has specialized in development and manufacture of cell culture media, reagents, and medical devices for researchers and clinicians. Irvine Scientific operates dual Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) manufacturing facilities in Santa Ana, CA, where the company is based, as well as in Tokyo; and bases its Ireland/U.K. operations in Newtownmountkennedy, County Wicklow, Ireland.

IS Japan, founded in 1989, manufactures in vitro fertilization products, products for cell culture, and products for research on regenerative medicine and cell therapy, and distributes Irvine Scientific's products in and outside Japan.

Expanding CDMO Operations

The dual acquisitions are Fujifilm’s latest efforts to expand its cell culture and broader biopharma CDMO business or “BioCDMO” business. Last month, Fujifilm was ranked #4 among GEN’s Top 15 Bioprocessing Companies, based on the ¥432.5 billion ($4.1 billion) generated last year by its Fujifilm Healthcare business of Fujifilm’s Information Solutions segment, which develops businesses in medical systems, pharmaceuticals, regenerative medicine, and life sciences.

Fujifilm established a standalone biopharma CDMO operating unit last year, separating that business from its pharmaceutical products division, and announced plans to expand capacity at its U.S.- and U.K.-based BioCDMO facilities by investing ¥14 billion ($131.5 million).  

Part of that investment—¥1 billion ($9.4 million)—funded a 10,000-square-foot cell culture Process Development Laboratories in Wilton Centre, Teesside, U.K., that was opened by Fujifilm’s CDMO business, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, in September 2017.

Also that month, Fujifilm took a 6% stake in the regenerative medicine venture company NC Medical Research by investing ¥430 million ($4 million) in the developer of the mesenchymal stem cell treatment candidate NCS-01 for acute stroke.

Fujifilm also bought reagent manufacturer Wako Pure Chemical Industries from Takeda Pharmaceutical for nearly ¥154.7 billion ($1.5 billion) in 2016. A year earlier, it acquired Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), a provider of induced pluripotent stem cell-based drug discovery support services, for about $307 million. CDI’s cell preparation technologies will be combined with Irvine scientific, IS Japan, and the somatic stem cell culturing technologies of Japan Tissue Engineering (J-TEC), acquired by Fujifilm in 2014, Fujifilm said.

Previous articleNewly Uncovered Pathway Points to New Strategies Against Ovarian Cancer
Next articleVitamin Precursor Could Help Reverse Cardiovascular Aging Effects