Catalent laying out $315M to snatch another gene therapy CDMO

Catalent, which carved out its place in gene therapies with its $1.2 billion deal for Paragon Services, is adding another serving to its plate. It will pay $315 million for Masthercell Global, a Belgium-based cell and gene therapy CDMO with operations in Europe and the U.S. 

Catalent has struck the cash deal for the contract development and manufacturing organization with biotech Orgenesis and private equity backers Great Point Partners and SFPI-FPIM, which have owned it for several years. The acquisition is expected to close in Catalent’s third quarter, at which point it will pick up Masthercell’s three sites along with about 240 employees. 

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Catalent CEO John Chiminski in a statement said Masthercell’s experience with T-cell receptors, CAR-T therapies and mesenchymal stem cells will allow Somerset, New Jersey-based Catalent to fill out its gene therapy capabilities, while Catalent can help Mastercell build out its commercial operations. 

“Both autologous and allogeneic cell therapies provide important new treatment options, with a rising number expected to gain regulatory approval over the coming years,” Chiminski said. “Catalent is well-positioned to combine Masthercell’s expert teams and capabilities with our extensive resources and experience in scaling new platforms.”  

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Masthercell has a 25,000 square-foot facility in Gosselies, Belgium, that handles clinical services. It is building a 60,000-square-foot commercial-scale and fill-finish operation adjacent that is expected to employ 250 when it is completed in the fall of 2021.

The Belgium company also has a 32,000-square-foot facility in Houston which, once validated, will focus on development-scale projects, Catalent pointed out. That is expected to be complete by year-end and to employ another 50 workers. 

With dozens of gene and cell therapy candidates under development, Catalent joined competitors in moving forcefully into specialized manufacturing of the therapies when it bought Paragon Services last year for $1.2 billion. That deal included 380 employees and a 200,000-square-foot GMP gene therapy biomanufacturing facility near Baltimore.