WuXi Bio steps up its ADC manufacturing game with a new, dedicated subsidiary

Antibody-drug conjugates are rushing to the fore. Of 11 ADCs on the market today, six have been approved since 2019.

That means demand for ADC manufacturing is on the rise—and now answering the call is China’s WuXi AppTec pharmaceutical conglomerate.

WuXi is setting up a new contract development and manufacturing organization called WuXi XDC to focus on manufacturing bioconjugates, including ADCs. 

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The firm is a joint venture between WuXi Biologics, which is investing $120 million for a 60% stake, and WuXi STA, which contributes $80 million for a 40% stake. It will be a non-wholly owned subsidiary of WuXi Biologics.  

“Bioconjugates have recently emerged as an exciting therapeutic modality to address unmet medical needs,” said WuXi Biologics CEO Chris Chen in an announcement, adding that WuXi XDC will “provide superior one-stop service for global partners in an effort to expedite development and lower costs.”

Still relatively new in fighting cancer, ADCs use a chemical linker to combine a monoclonal antibody with a potent drug payload. The antibody then homes in on specific antigens in target cells, allowing the drug to operate without damaging the cells around it.

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In August of 2019, WuXi Biologics said it was kicking off construction of a $20 million, 60,000-square-meter site near Shanghai to produce ADCs. Creating WuXi XDC kicks manufacturing of the drugs up a notch. 

“Many ADC drug development companies face complex global supply chain and project management challenges with multiple contract partners,” said WuXi STA chairman Minzhang Chen, who added that the initiative will provide "partners with optimized bioconjugates development and manufacturing.” 

Jimmy Li, who joined WuXi Biologics in 2011, was named the CEO of the new company.

WuXi’s announcement comes days after French CDMO Novasep said it would increase capacity for highly potent active pharmaceutical ingredients (HPAPIs), a key component in ADC manufacturing, at its plant in LeMans, France.