Catalent opens cell therapy production site at Belgian 'center of excellence'

Catalent has spent several years—and hundreds of millions of dollars—setting up a cell therapy production campus in Belgium. Today, the company is cutting the ribbon at its newest manufacturing facility there.

After picking up Belgian CDMO MaSTherCell Global for $315 million back in early 2020—and an adjacent site later that year—to establish a European "center of excellence for cell therapies" in Gosselies, Belgium, Catalent is opening a new plant there. 

The facility boasts 60,000 square feet of cell therapy production space and can produce autologous or allogenic treatments at clinical or commercial scales, Catalent says. Autologous cell therapies are made by re-engineering a patient's own cells, while allogenic treatments are often called "off-the-shelf" treatments and are premanufactured from unrelated donor cells.

The new plant is part of Catalent's Gosselies campus, which already features a 67,000-square-foot site for clinical cell therapy production and two facilities for plasmid DNA development and manufacturing. The plasmid DNA sites occupy 17,000 square feet and 32,400 square feet for R&D and large-scale manufacturing, respectively.

In all, Catalent offers "end-to-end services for development, scale up, and commercial launch of advanced therapies," the company's president of BioModalities, Manja Boerman, said in a statement.

The Belgian expansion comes amid a boom in cell and gene therapies industrywide. Catalent has been busy expanding in the field, in part by striking its MaSTherCell buyout in early 2020 to get its hands on a contract producer with cell and gene therapy expertise.

With the MaSTherCell deal, Catalent picked up three sites in Europe and the United States and 240 employees. Later in 2020, Catalent purchased a 31,000-square-foot cell and gene therapy facility in Gosselies, Belgium, from Bone Therapeutics' Skeletal Cell Therapy Support SA subsidiary.

But it's not been all good news at Catalent lately. The company is in the process of laying off hundreds of U.S. staffers at multiple sites as its revenues from COVID-19 vaccine contract manufacturing dry up.