Lonza buys majority stake in Octane Biotech

By Murielle Gonzalez | Published: 30-Oct-2018

Deal to further develop the Cocoon autologous technology

Lonza, the Swiss pharma and biotech company, has announced the acquisition of a controlling stake in Octane Biotech, with the right to acquire full ownership. Based in Kingston, Ontario, Octane Biotech is a medical technology company with advanced bioreactors, bioprocesses and biomaterials for regenerative medicine solutions and bioengineering.

The increase in equity share will allow Lonza to further develop technology to support the growing need for scalable autologous manufacturing. Octane Orthobiologics Inc. will maintain exclusivity to a certain subset of orthopaedic clinical indications for use in the Cocoon system.

Timothy Smith, co-founder of Octane Biotech with Ian Grant, said: “As continuing shareholders and directors of Octane Biotech, we welcome the expanded engagement of Lonza to significantly accelerate and reinforce the role of the Cocoon system as a game-changer in the autologous cell therapy manufacturing space."

The two companies have been collaborating since 2015 on the development of the Cocoon system, a patient-scale, closed and automated cell-therapy manufacturing system.

“This acquisition is a clear message to the market that we are committed to making commercially viable and scalable personalised therapies a reality,” said Marc Funk, COO of Lonza Pharma & Biotech. “We are looking to disruptive innovation, including automation to enable our customers to bring these promising therapies to patients.”

Cell culture and tissue engineering

Following an intensive joint-development programme, the Cocoon system now incorporates the majority of unit operations needed for scalable end-to-end manufacturing of cell therapies including Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells (CAR-T cells).

In addition, the flexible, disposable cassettes can be modified to accommodate a wide range of autologous cell therapy processes for adherent cells, non-adherent cells and combination products. This advantage provides flexibility in a field that utilises a variety of cell types and processes.

Cocoon also aims to answer some of the key challenges facing autologous cell therapies as they reach the commercial stage, including variability in cell yields and the stringent regulations in place once products are registered. Automating autologous cell therapy manufacturing in a closed system enables superior process control, leading to fewer deviations and higher cell quality.

Octane's Smith added: "Since the inception of the company, the vision of our team has been to bring award-winning innovation to this sector, and we are confident that Lonza will excel in enabling these transformative therapies to reach more patients throughout the world.”

The Cocoon system is part of Lonza’s array of autologous cell therapy offerings. The company is currently working with a number of customers, with therapies in various clinical stages, to integrate the Cocoon manufacturing equipment as a key part of their clinical and commercial manufacturing strategy.

Octane Biotech’s 24 employees at the current site in Kingston, Canada, will continue to support activities as the Cocoon system is further developed.

The Lonza autologous cell therapy R&D group will maintain their complete support of Cocoon system-related activities from their Maryland (US) R&D site.

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