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Business

Business Roundup

September 26, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 37

NatureWorks is embarking on improvements at its plant in Blair, Nebraska, that it says will increase capacity for the biobased polymer polylactic acid by 10% by the end of 2021. The firm says it continues to explore building a second plant, which would be outside the US.

Clariant will build a factory in Jiaxing, China, primarily to make propane dehydrogenation catalysts. The firm says the plant will be at full capacity by 2022.

ExxonMobil will expand its investment in the CO2-capture firm Global Thermostat. The companies have been jointly developing an amine-based adsorbent method to pull the greenhouse gas directly from the air.

Agragene has raised $4 million in series A funding from Ospraie Ag Science. San Diego–based Agragene says it will use the funds to develop its biological crop protection products, including a CRISPR-based “insect birth control.”

Sanofi and GSK will supply the government of Canada with up to 72 million doses of an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine, beginning in 2021. The two European firms, both of which have factories in Canada, anticipate starting Phase III studies of their codeveloped vaccine candidate by the end of the year.

CARB-X, a nonprofit funder of new antibiotics, is awarding GlaxoSmithKline up to $7.5 million to develop a small-molecule drug to combat urinary tract infections caused by Escherichia coli. GSK’s leading candidate prevents colonization of E. coli in the bladder by disrupting its ability to stick to bladder walls.

Johnson & Johnson is beginning a Phase III trial of its single-dose coronavirus vaccine with the goal of enrolling 60,000 people. Other vaccines in trials are multidose. J&J estimates that the adenovirus-based vaccine, if approved, would be available in early 2021.

Scenic Biotech and Genentech will develop therapies that target disease-suppressing genes, also called genetic modifiers, for a range of diseases. Scenic’s technology relies on human cells engineered to have only a single copy of every gene, as well as bioinformatic analysis to identify genetic modifiers.

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