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Lonza moves further into ADCs

Lonza has opened the first of two manufacturing suites at its main site in Visp, Switzerland, for the manufacture of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) linkers or payloads. This came shortly after an unrelated deal to manufacture antibodies to treat COVID-19 for AstraZeneca and the arrival of a new CEO with a Big Pharma background.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the new payload suite was opened virtually and is already manufacturing at commercial scale for a biopharmaceutical customer, following successful validation. It can handle compounds with occupational exposure levels (OELs) down to 1 ng/m3. A second suite will become available in early 2021.

The company said that the new suites will boost its capabilities “to provide fully scalable HPAPI and ADC solutions from lab to commercialisation, supporting the accelerated timelines that many drug programmes in this category require”. Lonza can make all three key components of ADCs - cytotoxic payloads, antibodies and the required linkers – at Visp.

Under a deal signed on 22 October, Lonza will manufacture AZD7442, a combination of two long-acting antibodies for the potential prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in the mid-scale facilities at its site in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This is one of the first projects to use these facilities. AZD7442 is currently in Phase I studies and AstraZeneca plans to move it into Phase III shortly.

Separately, Pierre-Alain Ruffieux has begun his new role as CEO at Lonza, following his appointment in June. Albert M. Baehny resumes his role as chairman of the board of directors, after a year as interim CEO. Ruffieux has over 20 years of experience in biopharmaceuticals, most recently as head of global pharma technical operations at Roche, where he oversaw commercial manufacturing and supply chain operations. The company said that he is joining “at a significant moment of opportunity, supported by increasing global awareness of the critical industry contribution made by pharma and biotech manufacturing technologies”.

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