Wacker Chemie officials say the company is acquiring 100% of the shares in pharmaceutical contract manufacturer Genopis from Helixmith and Medivate Partners. Wacker will continue Genopis’ existing customer relationships as a CDMO for plasmid DNA (pDNA).

The total purchase price for the acquisition consists of a $39 million cash payment due upon closing as well as possible further performance-based payments under a so-called earn-out model. The transaction is expected to close in the 1st quarter of 2021.

“This strategic acquisition is a key step in our ongoing expansion in the high-growth biopharmaceuticals market,” explains Rudolf Staudigl, PhD, Wacker’s president and CEO. “Genopis’ expertise in plasmid DNA technology expands our portfolio as a pharmaceutical-sector contract manufacturer. At the same time, the acquisition allows us to establish a local presence in the large U.S. market for biologics.”

Incorporated in 2018, Genopis operates a specialized, 500-liter-capacity fermentation line for the manufacture and purification of pDNA. Further small-scale fermentation and downstream processing facilities for pDNA are currently under construction at Genopis’ site in San Diego.

pDNA can be used either directly for nucleic acid-based gene therapies and for vaccines or as a starting point for such innovative therapeutic agents, for example to manufacture mRNA.

Wacker and Helixmith also plan to strategically collaborate on the production of a pDNA gene therapy (VM202) developed by Helixmith for the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).

VM202 is currently in clinical trials. Once approved, the two companies intend to have Wacker, as a CDMO partner, manufacture VM202 for commercial market supply. DPN is a common and so far difficult to treat chronic complication of diabetes, notes Staudigl. In the future, Wacker as a CDMO could also manufacture at the new San Diego site other pDNA products developed by Helixmith.

“A partnership with Wacker, one of the world`s leading microbial drug CDMOs, provides a significant boost to Helixmith,” points out Seungshin Yu, CEO of Helixmith. “Having a strong partner like Wacker provides us with additional confidence as we pursue our global blockbuster pipeline.”