Fujifilm lays down $800M for Irvine Scientific
- Fujifilm Holdings Corp. on March 29 announced it will purchase cell culture media firm Irvine Scientific Sales Co. and a related biotech unit from JXTG Holdings Inc. for approximately $800 million.
- Under terms of the agreement, Irvine Scientific's current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) facilities in California and Saitama, Japan, will be transferred to Fujifilm.
- The deal provides the acquirer's Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies Inc. arm with process efficiencies, in turn helping clients develop therapies and shortening time to market. Though regenerative medicine is a key focus area for Diosynth, it is also interested in ramping up media and reagent offerings and expanding its CDMO services.
Once camera-focused Fujifilm has been striving to build a stronger foothold in the biologics development, in large part through a series of acquisitions — the latest being Irvine Scientific. And of particular interest to Fujifilm is building a solid platform to support what it considers to be the three main pillars of regenerative medicine: cells, culture media/cytokines and recombinant peptide scaffolds.
Banking on pharma's heightened interest in regenerative medicine and protein-based biologics, Fujifilm has been slowly adding to its arsenal of culture media and bioprocessing capabilities. At the same time, it has partnered with other tool and technology companies in the cGMP space to make its manufacturing operations more flexible.
High cell densities that offer enhanced biological activity are crucial to the quality of biotherapies, and sometimes the quality of the medication rests with the starting components.
Cell line development is a major focus for Fujifilm, and the acquisition of Irvine Scientific should complement the company's existing expression platforms, Apollo and pAVEway.
On its own, Fujifilm has increased its antibody manufacturing capacity through an expansion of its CDMO business, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. The CDMO facilities rely on single-use biomanufacturing, supplied in part by technologies from GE Healthcare.
Fujifilm's analytical capabilities and site expansions — bolstered by prior purchases such as Cellular Dynamics International Inc., Japan Tissue Engineering Co. Ltd. and Wako Pure Chemical Industries Ltd. — are helping the company in its larger mission to scoop up a bigger share of the CDMO market.
The purchase of Irvine is another step in that direction, and more may be on the way. Fujifilm said in a statement that it is specifically looking to buy more reagent makers.
Fujifilm also wants to build up a client base interested in CAR-T therapies and stem cell therapies, a goal potentially aided by the Irvine acquisition.
Fujifilm Diosynth already has strengths in gene therapy, which will be enhanced by the opening of its single-use flexible manufacturing facility in Texas (announced in January). The Texas location will be dedicated specifically to the Phase I/II GMP production of gene therapies. Fujifilm also recently acquired an equity stake in EdiGene, a drug discovery startup focused on gene therapies.
In support of all of this new business, Fujifilm said in the statement that it plans to open a new facility in Boston "for the marketing of products and services that support the research and development and manufacturing of new drugs."
- Fujifilm Holdings Corp. Press release