Thermo Fisher shoulders into gene therapy manufacturing with $1.7B deal for Brammer

Brammer Bio, which was formed in 2016 and has viral vector manufacturing operations in Florida and Massachusetts, is being acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific. (Brammer Bio)

With gene therapies becoming a hot growth area, CDMOs are figuring out how to get a bigger piece of the market. Thermo Fisher Scientific decided to buy its way in, agreeing to pay $1.7 billion to get viral vector producer Brammer Bio.

The cash deal, slated to close by the end of the second quarter, will see Waltham, Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher picking up manufacturing locations in Massachusetts and Florida, along with 600 employees. Brammer is owned by Ampersand Capital Partners.

Cambridge-based Brammer Bio, which has undertaken 100 projects, is expected to produce $250 million in revenue this year and outrun the market growth rate of 25% for the midterm, the companies said. Thermo Fisher says the deal should add about $0.10 per share in the first full year of ownership.

Michel Lagarde, president of Thermo Fisher's pharma services, said the combination of the two companies can only strengthen both their positions in the burgeoning field. 

Novartis, Gilead and Spark Therapeutics already have gene therapies approved in the U.S., and several more of the potential cures are wending their way through the development and approval processes. Novartis is looking for a second gene therapy approval soon for spinal muscular atrophy treatment, Zolgensma.

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Many gene therapy biotechs are committing money to building their own specialized manufacturing facilities while also looking for redundancy from contractors. Swiss CDMO giant Lonza expanded its offerings last year when it opened a 300,000 square foot facility in the Houston, Texas, suburb of Pearland, which it claims is the largest dedicated cell-and-gene-therapy manufacturing facility in the world.

Brammer saw the potential early. It was formed in 2016 through the merger of Brammer Biopharmaceuticals and Alachua, Florida-based Florida Biologix, saying at the time it would invest about $50 million in a 50,000-square-foot facility in Lexington for the production of late-stage and commercial-scale viral vector and cell-based therapies.

It also bought a 67,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Cambridge from Biogen in 2016. A spokesperson said in an email today that the Florida site includes preclinical and clinical viral vector manufacturing, process and analytical development laboratories and quality control laboratories. The facilities in Cambridge and Lexington support commercial-ready cGMP manufacturing of viral vectors.

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