Lonza Opens New Biomanufacturing Center in Israel

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The new collaborative center aims to serve as a hub for innovations in drug development and manufacturing.

On Nov. 19, 2018, Lonza Pharma & Biotech announced the official opening of its Collaborative Innovation Center (CIC) in the Haifa Life Science Park, Israel, which is intended to serve as a hub for partnerships to identify and accelerate new solutions for biopharma manufacturing.

The 1000-m2 (10,764-ft2) facility includes lab space equipped with modernized bioprocessing and analytical equipment that is available to collaborating partners as a test bed for new ideas and technology. In addition to infrastructure, Lonza intends to offer funding and in-house expertise for collaborative research into strategic areas of application relevant to a variety of biopharma development needs.

“Israel has established itself as a point of convergence for digital technologies, engineering, and life sciences, providing new solutions for healthcare in particular,” said Marc Funk, COO Lonza Pharma & Biotech, in a company press release. “We want to expand this potential to reimagine the development and manufacturing of future medicines by working with academic institutions, teaching hospitals, and startups.”

The CIC is open to ideas that might benefit Lonza customers and has already signed up with leading institutions in Israel on research projects in three key focus areas:

  • Expression systems and synthetic biology to enable efficient scale up of the increasingly complex protein-based constructs currently in early stage pipelines. Lonza is expanding on its GS Gene Expression System to develop a new toolbox of solutions for hard-to-express proteins and new molecular formats.

  • Increasing numbers of cell and gene therapies are advancing towards commercialization, but manufacturing technology remains relatively immature. Lonza hopes to combine its in-house knowledge and technology with local expertise and proximity to teaching hospitals and academic institutions to enable reliable and repeatable processes and access to these therapies.

  • Data acquisition and analytics are essential to driving efficiency and consistency in manufacturing processes. Lonza’s CIC will tap into sensor technology and big-data-handling expertise to develop better in-line testing and predictive analytics to optimize and control bioprocesses.

Several projects are currently underway, including with the Center for Regenerative Medicine, Stem Cell, and Tissue Engineering at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center, which specializes in chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapies. Lonza and Sheba will be working together to evaluate and test the Cocoon manufacturing technology, a patient-scale, closed, and automated cell-therapy manufacturing system.

"Advanced autologous cell therapies are growing to become a major part of future medicine. High-quality manufacturing at point-of-care, is a key challenge in making these applicable,” said Dr. Elad Jacoby, Sheba Medical Center, in the press release.

“We have treated more than 60 children and young adults with leukemia and lymphoma with CAR-T cells, which makes Sheba Medical Center the ideal place to help drive new technologies that could extend treatment to even more young people," he added. "The collaboration with Lonza will enable us to develop a growing platform for production of CAR-T and other cell therapies.”

The CIC sits at the interface of Lonza’s R&D network, which encompasses eight sites globally, and the Israeli innovation community. It will be run by Dr. Frida Grynspan- Gotlieb, who has extensive R&D experience in the Israeli biotech and life sciences sectors.

Source: Lonza