MilliporeSigma said today it plans to acquire Natrix Separations for an undisclosed sum, a purchase designed to accelerate the buyer’s monoclonal antibody (mAb) and vaccine manufacturing offerings and complement its next-generation bioprocessing efforts through expansion of its single-use chromatography portfolio.

Based in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, Natrix provides hydrogel membrane products for single-use chromatography. Natrix markets both an anion-exchange membrane and cation-exchange membrane—and is developing additional products designed to help companies carry out fully single-use, full-scale biological purification processes.

The company says its technology platform can deliver high productivity and impurity removal in a single-use format, an ideal fit with next-generation processing.

That platform is designed to combine the high binding capacity, selectivity, and specificity normally associated with resin-based chromatography with the high throughput and ease of use of traditional membrane products.

Natrix Separations’ technology consists of a polymeric hydrogel formed within a flexible porous support matrix. The support matrix is designed to provide mechanical strength, while the hydrogel properties determine the separation chemistry of the product. The resulting macroporous structure is intended to provide a large surface area for binding and facilitate rapid mass transfer, supporting high flow rates while providing highly efficient capture of the target molecule.

Natrix says its technology enables highly selective chromatographic separations in many applications where no commercially viable separation process has existed. Other advantages cited by the company are a 60% to 80% smaller footprint for processing, and the elimination of large, fixed glass columns.

“The Natrix technology platform, and the development options and capabilities that this brings for single-use and rapid cycling chromatography, will allow us to accelerate our offering in mAb and vaccine manufacturing,” MilliporeSigma CEO Udit Batra, Ph.D., said in a statement. “This acquisition creates tremendous opportunity to drive growth and advancement in next-generation processing—an area of increasing importance to our customers.”

The acquisition is MilliporeSigma’s second action this month focused on boosting vaccine development and manufacturing. On August 8, the company joined Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, and its vaccine product development partnership (PDP), Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development (Texas Children's CVD), to advance vaccine R&D for neglected and emerging infections.

Advancing Next-Gen Processing

MilliporeSigma—the life science business of Merck KGaA—defines next-gen processing as any technology, expendable, or system that changes the existing mAb manufacturing template through an evolution of unit operation intensification, connecting processes, resulting in a fully continuous process.

The benefits of next-gen processing, the company says, include increased plant productivity, increased facility flexibility, reduced risk, and reduced cost of goods sold, or COGS.

Next-gen processing has been a priority for MilliporeSigma. In May, the company launched its Ex-Cell® Advanced™ HD Perfusion Medium, designed to increase production yield as much as 50%, as well as speed to clinic, by facilitating perfusion processes rather than using conventional batch or fed-batch processes. Among benefits of perfusion processes, according to the company, is higher protein yields compared with fed-batch, the mammalian cell cultivation mode used by biopharma manufacturers for decades

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

Natrix was established in 2004 as Nysa Membrane Technologies to commercialize the platform that had been developed by the research group of Ronald F. Childs, Ph.D., D.Sc., at McMaster University. Four years later, the company moved into its R&D and manufacturing facilities in Burlington.

“Joining MilliporeSigma gives us the opportunity to collaborate with some of the best minds in the industry, allowing us to further the great work done by our scientists,” says John Chickosky, CEO, Natrix Separations. “I am truly excited to become part of a larger effort and see the benefits of this combination in the advances we will make for our customers and the global scientific community.”

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