Genome of South Korea gains CDMO capability and drug material insurance with $27M purchase of List Labs

How much is Genome & Company of South Korea willing to pay to protect itself against future drug material shortages?  

In the case of Genome’s purchase of List Biological Laboratories, the answer is $27 million. After the developer of immuno-oncology therapies revealed it had spent that figure for a 60% share of the San Jose, California-based manufacturer, Genome CEO Bae Ji-soo said the move was mostly about ensuring it had a steady supply of bacterial products and proteins to support its development of microbiome-based therapies.

The CDMO would also enable Genome to become a fully integrated biotech able to conduct research and manufacture its own products. Six-year-old Genome will allow List to operate on its own, with minimal disruption to the way it does business.

RELATED: Arranta Bio splashes $100M into 'microbiome' CDMO capacity with new Massachusetts facility

“We are aiming to become a global pharmaceutical company by developing new drugs with our partner by pioneering underexplored fields including microbiome-based medical products for cancer immunotherapy, brain disorders and obstetrics and gynecology,” Bae said during an online news conference.

Genome has drawn attention as one of the world’s first companies to develop microbiome-based immuno-oncology drugs. It kicked off a trial last year for lead program GEN-001 in combination with anti-PD-1 or PD-L1 therapies, measuring its safety and effectiveness against advanced solid tumors. 

Bae said he expects the global market for microbiome-based treatments to grow from $56.3 million in 2018 to $9.39 billion in 2024. 

RELATED: Lonza JV to produce live biotherapeutic products for gut bacteria field

In addition to bolstering its supply of drug materials through the acquisition, Genome said it will also try to generate revenue through List’s CDMO capabilities. Added revenue would fuel Genome’s development of novel drugs, the company said. Genome also said it hopes eventually to attract investment to build other CDMO facilities for microbiome production.

“We expect to further strengthen capabilities as a customer-oriented microbiome CDMO,” said List President Stacy Burns-Guydish, Ph.D. “By combining the capabilities of both companies, we will advance as a global microbiome CDMO leader.”

List, which was established in 1978, manufactures more than 100 products including peptides, toxins and antibodies. It is involved in vaccine development along with toxin and infectious disease research.