Thermo Fisher to Buy Viral Vector Maker Brammer Bio for $1.7B

by Conor Hale

Thermo Fisher Scientific has moved to acquire viral vector developer and manufacturer Brammer Bio for $1.7 billion in cash, giving it a new foothold in the cell and gene therapy market.

Thermo Fisher plans to fold the CDMO—along with its nearly 600 employees, based primarily in Massachusetts and Florida—into its pharmaceutical services business as part of its laboratory products and services segment.

The lab equipment giant estimated that Brammer Bio will deliver $250 million in annual revenue by the end of 2019, and expects its growth to outpace the 25% rate projected for the larger gene and cell therapy market.

“Gene therapy is an area of increasing focus for our customers and is fast-evolving given its potential to treat a range of genetic disorders,” Thermo Fisher President and CEO Marc Casper said in a statement.

“The combination of Brammer Bio’s viral vector capabilities with our GMP production expertise and proprietary bioprocessing and cell culture technologies uniquely positions us to partner with our customers to drive the evolution of this incredibly fast-growing market,” Casper added. The companies expect the complete the transaction by the end of the second quarter of this year.

The FDA is expecting a new surge in cell and gene therapy applications in the coming years, including at least 200 investigational new drug submissions annually, starting in 2020. By 2025, the agency predicts it will be approving 10 to 20 products each year—driven largely by advances in delivery platforms, such as viral vectors.

More recently, Big Biotech’s has been showing renewed interest in acquiring smaller cell and gene therapy developers—with Pfizer acquiring a stake and future purchasing option in the rare disease-focused Vivet Therapeutics, while Biogen agreed to shell out $877 million for Nightstar Therapeutics and its pipeline of gene therapies.

Elsewhere, Thermo Fisher has been making investments in its own biologic and sterile liquid manufacturing operations, slating $150 million to increase capacity at three sites in its CDMO network.

Each site—including one in North Carolina and two in Italy—will get aseptic filling lines and isolator technology, with construction expected to be finished within the next two years.

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