Fujifilm said Tuesday it will invest $200 million in cell therapy manufacturing, earmarking the new funds for an area of drug research it expects to grow considerably in the coming years.
The investments will go to two subsidiaries focused on cell therapy production. One of them, Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics, is a developer of human induced pluripotent stem cells, as well as cells derived from them. The other, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, is a contract manufacturer that makes biologics and other therapies.
The funds will also boost Fujifilm’s ability to produce a variety of cell-based medicines, from so-called CAR-T treatments to therapies based on natural killer, or NK, cells.
In making its investment, Fujifilm is betting on the continued progress of the cell therapy field. A half dozen cell-based treatments from Novartis, Bristol Myers Squibb and Gilead Sciences have already been approved. Other biotech companies aim to follow suit with newer methods meant to overcome the limitations of existing technologies.
Cell therapy development can be an expensive and lengthy process, and difficult for young biotechs to afford to pursue on their own. Many have turned to outside help from contract manufacturers, causing a surge in demand and catalyzing the formation of new startups devoted to cell therapy production.
Fujifilm is among the largest of the manufacturing firms with a presence in cell therapy. Its Diosynth Biotechnologies site in Thousand Oaks, California, is near a cluster of biotechs and capital firms. The investment in that division will add a development lab and clean rooms expected to be ready for use in early 2025
Its Cellular Dynamics unit, meanwhile, is located in “BioMidwest,” a hub of life science companies and academia in Madison, Wisc. The new funding will double the capacity of that location and should be fully operational by 2026.
“This investment is an important step for Fujifilm to lead as an innovative global manufacturing partner for the growing cell therapy market,” said Teiichi Goto, Fujifilm’s CEO, in a statement.