Fujifilm liposome plant ready to deliver

Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., a unit of Japanese conglomerate Fujifilm, has completed the country's first facility for manufacturing liposome formulations. It will offer the services to other drugmakers as well as using them for its own drug development. (Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co.)

Fujifilm has completed the first manufacturing facility in Japan to make drug-delivering liposomes to use for cancer fighting drugs it is developing. But the Japanese company is not keeping it all to itself. The plant also will make them for other drug developers. 

The 4 billion yen ($37.5 million) facility is at the production site of its Toyama Chemical unit in Tokyo. It will be operational in February 2020, just as the company predicted when it announced its plans in 2018.

The company said much of the manufacturing equipment and containment facilities installed in the liposome formulation facility are based on the technologies developed through its work producing sterile injectable formulations and even its photographic manufacturing.   

Liposomes—nanoscale "bubbles" made of organic lipids already present in human cells—have proven effective in delivering active ingredients to cancer cells. Fuji has two immune checkpoint inhibitors in its phase 1 pipeline that will use them, but it says it also is researching their use in next-generation pharmaceuticals such as nucleic acid drugs and gene therapy drugs.

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Gene therapies are another area of emphasis for the company. Its contract operation, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, last month said it would invest $120 million in its College Station, Texas gene therapy manufacturing campus to build 6,000 square meters of new laboratories as well as eight new 500 / 2,000L single use bioreactors. It plans to add 75 to 100 more scientists when the first phase of the new project is ready in 2021.

Fujifilm will also contract out its liposome business by offering to manufacture formulations for other drug developers.