Fujifilm adding Texas-based vaccine specialist to its fold

The National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing--Courtesy of Kalon Biotherapeutics

Japan's Fujifilm has been building up its drug manufacturing assets as one way to move away from its roots in photography. It already has biologics capabilities, but now is buying vaccine specialist Kalon Biotherapeutics, which is working with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) on a new government-backed vaccine plant in Texas.

The company said Monday that its Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies subsidiary is buying a 49% interest in Kalon from its owners, which includes the Texas A&M University System where Kalon was founded in 2011. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the next few months, were not provided, but Fujifilm said it may buy the rest of Kalon, assuming certain milestones are hit.

Fujifilm said College Station, TX-based Kalon's facilities include high containment manufacturing which could be used not only for the production of vaccines for influenza but other viruses like anthrax and Ebola. Fujifilm is currently testing an influenza drug as a treatment for Ebola, Reuters reports.

The Japanese company said that Kalon also uses mobile clean rooms and that up to 20 MCRs can be installed at the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing facility, where Kalon is a subcontractor, so that work could be done on several types of vaccines concurrently.

Last month Texas hosted a kickoff for the $91 million, 100,000 square foot Pandemic Influenza Vaccine Facility, which GSK is building with the university. It will be part of the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM). It is slated to be complete at the end of 2016, with start-up and validation completed in early 2017. A smaller, Viral-based Vaccine Facility, is being designed and will be constructed next to the pandemic vaccine facility.

CIADM is one of three national centers that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service is helping fund with the understanding that they would provide vaccines for pandemics if called upon by HHS. The agency has been talking with the centers about helping to produce drugs for use against the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

- here's the Fujifilm announcement
- get more from Reuters

Read more on