Evotec agrees to give US Merck access to facility of the future

MSD has paid $15m to gain access to Just–Evotec Biologics’ J.POD Washington facility that conducts small, intensified bioprocessing operations housed inside autonomous cleanrooms

Evotec’s wholly-owned Seattle-based subsidiary, Just – Evotec Biologics, has expanded its collaboration with MSD, a tradename of Merck & Co, regarding the development of innovative technologies for the production of biologics.

Under the terms of the agreement, Just – Evotec Biologics grants MSD access to capacity in the J.POD facility in Redmond, Washington, which has just been announced to be under construction. The innovative cGMP biomanufacturing facility employs Just – Evotec Biologics’ J.POD technology using small, intensified bioprocessing operations housed inside autonomous cleanrooms.

The J.POD facility gives MSD access to manufacturing capacity, which is compatible with the innovative manufacturing platform co-developed by MSD and Just – Evotec Biologics under a previous agreement announced in 2015.

The design of the physical plant and the processes used for manufacture are fully optimised for high efficiency and flexibility; reducing the plant footprint, environmental impact and the overall time of construction and cost involved with biologics manufacturing. Dedicated quality control and process development laboratories for both clinical and commercial products are being built into the facility.

The site will be able to supply small and large quantities of high quality clinical or commercial grade biologics. Fast and efficient change-over times will provide partners with the flexibility and security to produce portfolios of biologics.

Dr James Thomas, EVP Global Head Biotherapeutics Development and President US Operations at Just – Evotec Biologics, said: “We’re pleased to expand the scope of our collaboration with MSD in the biomanufacturing area to include execution of full-scale continuous (connected) processing in our new flexible commercial J.POD facility.”

J.POD (manufacturing and plant design) is an integral part of Just – Evotec Biologics’ J.DESIGN platform that combines data analytics and machine learning through all activities involved with the discovery, development, and manufacture of biologics. The integrated J.POD facility will be capable of delivering tens of kgs to metric tonnes of the highest quality products in an efficient and flexible manufacturing setting.

Highly productive processes will be scaled out without scaling up; fine tuning capital expenditure to demand with no operational scale-up risk.

The terms of the collaboration include an upfront payment of $15m, near term milestone payments based on completion of the construction of the J.POD facility as well as a broad collaboration around reserved capacities.

Dr Joe Miletich, Senior VP of preclinical and process development research at MSD, added: “As we learn together how best to meet the challenging future demands of biologics, access to Just – Evotec Biologics’ platform technology is an integral part of our overall drug development and manufacturing de-risking strategy.”

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