Catalent continues cell and gene therapy push with deal for Belgian CDMO

Catalent will add Delphi's 17,000-square-foot plasmid DNA facility, pictured here, to its growing cell and gene therapy "center of excellence" in Gosselies, Belgium. (Delphi Genetics)

Catalent's Belgian manufacturing foothold is widening, as the company moves to acquire yet another cell and gene therapy CDMO in the area. 

Catalent locked in a deal to buy 100% of the shares of Delphi Genetics, a plasmid DNA cell and gene therapy CDMO based out of Gosselies, Belgium. The move will help speed the start of commercial plasmid manufacturing at Catalent's facility in Rockville, Maryland, and add to the CDMO's fast-growing hub in Gosselies. 

As part of the deal, Catalent will get its hands on Delphi's STABY technology, an antibiotic-free selection system used to make plasmids and proteins in E. coli, which it plans to transfer to its Rockville site, Colleen Floreck, VP of global marketing and strategy at Catalent Cell and Gene Therapy, said via email.

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Since picking up the Rockville facility in 2019, Catalent has brought its plasmid capacity online to the tune of 50 liters and is now tackling R&D production there for early-phase customers, Floreck said. The company is now installing three more manufacturing suites at the plant, she added. 

The facility also boasts process and analytical development services, and will eventually be used to take viral vector partners' work from early development through commercialization, Floreck said. 

The takeover will also see Delphi's Gosselies home base become the latest addition to Catalent's cell and gene therapy operation in the region, Delphi CEO François Blondel said in a release. In fact, Delphi's 17,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and headquarters is located right next to Catalent's existing facilities there. 

Catalent made its first foray into Belgium last February, laying out $315 million to acquire MaSTherCell Global, a cell and gene therapy CDMO with operations in Gosselies and Houston, Texas. Alongside MaSTherCell's existing 25,000-square-foot clinical services facility in Belgium, Catalent snagged a 60,000-square-foot commercial-scale and fill-finish facility in progress, which will eventually employ 250 when the project wraps later this year. 

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Catalent made moves on another Gosselies site in October, buying a 31,000-square-foot cell and gene therapy plant from Bone Therapeutics for $14 million. 

The Delphi deal, expected to close "in the next week," will fold the company's current workforce of 38 into Catalent's cell and gene therapy business unit, Floreck said. That team consists of R&D and genetic engineering scientists and technicians, regulatory specialists, leadership and more, she said. Catalent didn't disclose how much it will pay for Delphi. 

Delphi, which spun off from the Université libre de Bruxelles in 2001, boasts "one-stop-shop" CDMO services for preclinical work up to phase 3, including process development, pilot production, plasmid design and production, strain screening and stability. Plus, just last March, Delphi more than tripled its plasmid production capacity in Gosselies, courtesy of three new manufacturing suites.