Abzena nabs $65M to bolster manufacturing and research services on both sides of the pond

Roughly one year after dropping designs on a $200 million biologics plant in North Carolina, antibody-drug conjugate specialist Abzena has snared a fresh round of funding to overhaul manufacturing on both sides of the Atlantic.

The partner research organization has collected $65 million from Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe plus Biospring Partners and other investors, Abzena said in a recent release. The company will use the cash to bolster both clinical and commercial manufacturing capacity at new and existing sites.

Moreover, the funding will help “augment drug discovery and cell line options,” add fill-finish capabilities to Abzena’s service roster and help see the completion of a new biological testing lab.

Part of the haul will go toward the Sanford, North Carolina, site Abzena unveiled last April—destined to become the company’s sixth “integrated biologics solutions” site across its global network of facilities. The new plant is expected to come online in 2022’s fourth quarter, and it will help Abzena chart a “significant” capacity boost to help meet growing demand.

Abzena may not be the biggest contract manufacturer or partner research organization, Jonathan Goldman, M.D., CEO at Abzena, said in an interview. But the company is angling to become the “most scientifically adept,” nimble and flexible, with its “end-to-end” solutions all housed under a single roof, he said.

In North Carolina, Abzena’s Sanford facility will begin its life equipped with four 2,000-liter suites, Goldman said. One of those suites will house two 2,000-liter reactors, so at launch, the company’s plant will have five reactors total, Goldman explained. Over time, the company plans to expand to six suites, each equipped with two reactors, the CEO said.

Fill-finish capabilities, meanwhile, are bound for a pair of facilities in the U.S. and the U.K. 

“This new capital will allow us to develop and manufacture a greater number of novel treatments for more patients,” Goldman added in a company statement. “I am delighted to see Abzena grow to become the most innovative and flexible company providing these integrated solutions.”

As Abzena’s North Carolina facility nears completion, the company earlier this month said it had cut the ribbon on its new biologics testing facility near its process development and manufacturing hub in San Diego.

With the new facility, Abzena now offers both “traditional and rapid” molecular detection methods, plus “all services” expected of “research cell banks, characterization of master and working cell banks, end-of-production of cell cultures, and bulk drug substances,” the company said.