"Today, we have 96 customers in our network, ranging from very small virtual pharma companies to large, global pharma organizations."
What does AGC Biologics’ footprint in the US look like, and does the company plan to expand here?
AGC Biologics has grown significantly since 2019, and today we have seven sites around the globe – three in the US, three in Europe, and one in Japan, where we plan to acquire an additional site soon. The company has also grown its human capital and today employs more than 2,500 people.
The company’s headquarters is in Seattle, where we have added new buildings for mammalian, microbial, and Covid-related projects. We recently acquired two sites in Colorado – one in Boulder and one in Longmont. The Longmont site, which we acquired to expand our cell and gene therapy services, is extremely large and presents many opportunities for the company and our customers. The Longmont acquisition came after a deal AGC Biologics did in Milan in 2020 where we acquired MolMed, a company with a strong bioreactor and cell therapy platform, which we are now leveraging in our Colorado facilities.
AGC Biologics has invested heavily in the US because this is the fastest growing market at the moment. We will continue to expand our operations in the country with the aim of the US market becoming our largest revenue generator. With our two site acquisitions in Colorado, we are proud to be the largest biotech company in the state. Colorado is an amazing area to be located as the quality of life is high, there is an excellent biotech ecosystem, and great support from the government and life science organizations. We look forward to continually expanding our sites and capabilities in the US in order to offer the best possible services to our customers.
To what extent is the area of orphan drugs still a core focus of AGC Biologics?
There are many orphan treatments that require manufacturing. That said, production volumes are relatively small, meaning it is hard for developers to justify setting up their own manufacturing capacity. Thus, CDMOs offer a great opportunity for orphan drug developers to outsource manufacturing capabilities so they can focus on the science and strategic planning to get their products to the market. With all our recent expansions and the investment in a new 20,000 L bioreactor in Boulder, AGC Biologics is not only servicing orphan drug products but is also targeting more large-volume molecules. We aim to offer compelling services to all our customers and we do not discriminate based on company size or manufacturing requirements.
Can you speak to the target profiles of the types of companies AGC Biologics works with?
AGC Biologics has a truly diverse target group of customers; with the expansion of our portfolio of services naturally came an expansion of our customer base. Today, we have 96 customers in our network, ranging from very small virtual pharma companies to large, global pharma organizations. We offer world-class drug substance development and manufacturing services for mammalian and microbial based therapeutics, as well as multiple cGMP manufacturing lines at a variety of scales, according to customer needs. We are also growing our capabilities in the cell and gene therapy space, and we are committed to continuously innovating to solve our customers’ most complex challenges. We have established a global network of sites to be close to our customers and try to replicate all our service offerings in all the regions where we operate.
How has AGC Biologics supported initiatives that mitigate the spread of COVID-19?
We currently have eight projects related to COVID-19, dealing with prevention in terms of manufacturing vaccines or supplying vaccine components to customers. For example, we supply plasmid DNA materials to BioNTech for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. We also have a contract with Novavax to manufacture Matrix-M, the adjuvant component for their COVID-19 vaccine.
What types of technology is the company currently investing in?
AGC Biologics has a specialized R&D department focused on developing new technologies for the company to leverage. We are developing a new generation monoclonal delivery platform that can eliminate all non-disposable or single use steps. We want to build a completely disposable system, including downstream, which has been a bit of a challenge. We are also working in cell line development, trying to improve the titers and the capabilities of the cell lines we offer. In terms of cell and gene therapy and plasmid DNA, we are working to increase the throughput of the processes to run multiple processes in parallel as a way to offer more plasmids for customers that need this important material. We will continue to invest in innovative technology to remain a leading CDMO in the biotech space.