2022-01-27| Asia-PacificM&A

Fujifilm Expands CDMO Operations by Buying Atara’s Cell Therapy Plant for $100 Million

by Joy Lin
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Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB), a subsidiary of Fujifilm, is acquiring Atara Biotherapeutics’ T-cell Operations and Manufacturing (ATOM) facility in Thousand Oaks, California for $100 million. 

In return, the Japanese CDMO has agreed to a long-term supply agreement with Atara, which would last 10 years. Specifically, FDB will help Atara manufacture its pipeline of clinical and commercial-stage allogeneic cell therapies. 

ATOM Will Produce Off-the-shelf T-cell Therapies and More


ATOM is a 90,000 sq. ft manufacturing facility that specializes in producing T-cell and CAR T immunotherapies. 

The plant gained qualification in 2018, and has been gearing up for the commercial production of Atara’s tabelecleucel (tab-cel), which is under regulatory review in Europe. Tab-cel is an allogeneic T-cell therapy for Epstein-Barr virus-related post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (EBV+ PTLD), a complication of hematopoietic stem cell transplant. 

ATOM also produces Atara’s other candidates ATA188, which targets EBV antigens to potentially treat multiple sclerosis, and multiple next-generation CAR T-cell therapies ATA3271 and ATA3219.

Under FDB, ATOM will manufacture a broader portfolio of cell therapies while retaining Atara’s staff and current production. 

Related Article: Cartesian’s Off-the-shelf RNA Therapy for Myeloma Enters Clinical Trials

Atara Cuts Expenses and Boosts Cash Runway


With ATOM off its hands, Atara will be able to reduce the operating expenses for the production of its products over the 10 year period, passing these costs to Fujifilm instead. 

Additionally, Atara stated that the $100 million upfront payment from FDB, along with its existing cash and assets , is expected to fund the company’s operations well into 2023. Atara also expects to have completed the Phase 2 trial of ATA188 by then.

Related Article: Wanting In on US Market, Cynata Taps Fujifilm to Advance Stem Cell Products

FDB Expands CDMO Operations in North America


FDB’s latest acquisition comes as the Japanese CDMO expands its operations in North America. 

In the beginning of January, FDB announced the expansion of the BioProcess Innovation Center in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, which will see 89,000 sq. ft added to the available space. 

And two weeks ago, Fujifilm Diosynth announced plans to invest $300 million to expand its current campus in College Station, Texas. 

The project will bring the Texas plant’s total footprint to 300,000 sq. ft and will house bioreactors and purification equipment. 

According to FDB, both the Texas and North Carolina expansion projects will be completed in 2024.

Related Article: Fujifilm Plans a Cell Culture CDMO Site in North Carolina, Creating 700+ Job Opportunities

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