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Business Roundup

January 7, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 1

BASF is expanding methane sulfonic acid capacity in Ludwigshafen, Germany, by 65%. The project will boost its global capacity for the product to 50,000 metric tons per year when completed in 2021. Methane sulfonic acid is used in chemical synthesis, industrial cleaning, and metal surface treatment.

Umicore will build a fuel cell catalyst facility close to its technology center near Seoul, South Korea. To open by 2020, the plant will meet growing demand from automotive customers, including the South Korean firm Hyundai.

Rentschler Biopharma has agreed to acquire a manufacturing facility from Shire in Milford, Massachusetts. The German contract development and manufacturing organization will continue to manufacture for Shire at the site, which Shire acquired from Baxalta, a Baxter spin-off, last year.

Orchard Therapeutics plans to build a gene-therapy manufacturing facility in Fremont, California. The 14,000-m2 facility will include capacity for lentiviral vector and cryopreserved cell therapy products.

Astellas Pharma has acquired Potenza Therapeutics for $165 million plus up to $240 million in milestone payments. Astellas says the purchase marks the successful outcome of a 2015 agreement to develop immuno-oncology therapies.

Versameb, a Swiss biotech start-up, has raised about $5.4 million in seed financing to develop mRNA therapies that promote tissue regeneration. The company is led by Friedrich Metzger, the former head of rare disease discovery at Roche.

Merck KGaA is handing over its CAR T-cell therapy program to Intrexon in exchange for a $25 million convertible note from Intrexon and $150 million in stock. Intrexon will also receive a $25 million cash investment from Merck.

Erasca has launched with $42 million in series A financing. Founded by ­biotech entrepreneur Jonathan E. Lim, Erasca says its goal is to “erase cancer” with new drugs that target biological drivers of the disease.


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