The development of biological products has been continuously and steadily increasing in the last decade: in the global market, according to the data of the Biologics Global Market Report 2021, in the last 30 years the sector has grown at an annual rate of more than 12%. Moreover, the volume of business is expected to further double by 2030.
The biotech sector today includes lines of activity ranging from the flexible production of cells and active ingredients to the development of monoclonal antibodies (MAb), enzymes and other proteins, but also the bioconjugation of proteins, the filling operations in aseptic and freeze-drying environment, up to the packaging processes for finished drugs to be delivered to a global market.
Biotech Center of Excellence Plant has been announced, operational from 2024
In this context, Chiesi pharmaceutical Group has decided to focus on biotech and enter the field of biological drug production, with an investment of 85 million euros for the realization of its own international level plant. The new hub, the Biotech Center of Excellence Plant, will be located next to the current Italian production plant of Chiesi in Parma, and will be a hub for the development and production of biological drugs, that will employ 105 people in highly qualified positions and will become operational - according to the work plans - in 2024. The project was announced on Tuesday 14 December in Rome in an event with the Italian Minister of Economic Development, Giancarlo Giorgetti.
“This is a fundamental strategic step for the Group, which aims to create not only an advanced development and production center, but a hub of excellence in the production of biological drugs”, said Alberto Chiesi, President of Chiesi Group. “The objective is to develop innovative therapeutic solutions internally, creating a vertical integration of the process and attracting the best talent and technical skills from Italy and the entire globe. The Centre will be open to collaboration and the implementation of synergistic projects with other companies in the sector, to become an innovative point of reference for the entire pharmaceutical sector”.
Chiesi's biotechnological activity will start from MAbs produced with recombinant DNA techniques from a single type of immune cell, and will vertically integrate all the processes necessary to move from cell production to the finished and marketable product. Therefore the nascent center will specialize in advanced technologies for organic products, including analytical techniques at the frontier. The first finished products are expected to roll out of the plant in 2025.
“The main objective of Chiesi is the health and quality of life of patients and their caregivers. To do this, we are committed to promoting innovative research and development activities into which we invest more than 20% of our turnover, approximately 480 million euros in 2021”, commented Ugo Di Francesco, Chief Executive Officer of Chiesi Group. “With this project the Group is entering the field of the production of recombinant proteins, including monoclonal antibodies. A decision that guides us towards the future of medicine and science”.
Patient centricity through strategic collaborations
The plant will exploit innovative technologies and solutions to ensure maximum environmental sustainability, as part of a broader commitment by the Chiesi Group to adopt 100% renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before 2030 and by 90% before 2035. The Biotech Center of Excellence Plant is also the actual confirmation of the patient-centered culture of Chiesi Group, at every stage of the product development cycle. And, in recent years, a series of new strategic partnerships with external partners has contributed to further strengthening this approach.
These include partnerships with the biotechnology company Moderna, known as a pioneer in messenger RNA-based therapies, for the development of new treatments against arterial pulmonary hypertension. Or the most recent license agreement with UCB biopharmaceutical, focused on innovative drugs and solutions in the respiratory field, for the development and production of a monoclonal antibody against an enzyme associated with fibrotic diseases. Yet another piece of Chiesi's patient-centered approach is the investment in Cyclica: the Canadian neo-biotechnology company is engaged in research activities into drugs based on an artificial intelligence technology capable of predicting molecular properties in early phase drug development, drastically reducing failure rates and time interval between the kick off of the trial and the availability of the drug for the patients.