US-based Catalent Pharma Solutions has agreed to acquire MaSTherCell Global, a contract developer and manufacturer of cell and gene therapies, for approximately $315m in cash, subject to customary adjustments.

The transaction is expected to be closed, subject to customary closing conditions, in the third quarter of Catalent’s 2020 fiscal year.

Once the transaction is closed, MaSTherCell’s 240 employees, including its leadership team, will be transitioned to the Catalent Biologics business.

Catalent offers advanced delivery technologies, development, and manufacturing solutions for drugs, biologics, gene therapies, and consumer health products.

Catalent chair and CEO comments on the acquisition

Catalent chair and chief executive officer John Chiminski said: “MaSTherCell extends our leadership position in the biotech industry, complements our leading gene therapy offering, and allows us to deliver comprehensive development, manufacturing, analytical, fill-finish, and clinical supply solutions for innovators across the large molecule space.

“Both autologous and allogeneic cell therapies provide important new treatment options, with a rising number expected to gain regulatory approval over the coming years. Catalent is well-positioned to combine MaSTherCell’s expert teams and capabilities with our extensive resources and experience in scaling new platforms.”

MaSTherCell holds a 25,000ft2 facility in Belgium, which offers clinical services, and is building a dedicated 60,000ft2 commercial-scale production and fill-finish facility. The new facility is expected to be opened in 2021, adding more than 250 new jobs.

In addition, the company has been constructing a 32,000ft2 facility in Houston, Texas, to focus on development-scale projects. Once the validation activities are completed, the facility is expected to employ a team of more than 50 employees before the end of 2020.

MaSTherCell manufactures therapies based on chimeric antibody receptor-engineered T cells (CAR-T), T cell receptors (TCR), tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), and mesenchymal stem cells (MSC).

MaSTherCell CEO Darren Head said: “MaSTherCell has built comprehensive capabilities to address the complexities of cell therapy production. Like Catalent, our experience has taught us the importance of technology selection, advanced know-how, and quality and regulatory expertise for successful cell therapy programs that are aimed at producing life-altering treatments.

“We are excited to join the industry-leading team at Catalent and work together to scale-up our business. This combination will strengthen our service offering to our customers and, in the end, benefit patients who need innovative life-saving therapies. Catalent’s backing will position MaSTherCell for growth and enhance Catalent’s existing presence in Belgium.”