Catalent jumps into ADCs with Redwood deal

As more and more drugmakers eye antibody-drug conjugate development as a path to blockbusters, Catalent has licensed ADC technology from Redwood Bioscience, planning to roll the offering into its service platform.

Under the deal, Catalent gets exclusive rights to sub-license Redwood's technology, called SMARTag, and the CRO will take a minority stake in Redwood with the option to buy it in the future.

The technology combines the binding benefits of monoclonal antibodies with the potency of small-molecule chemotherapy treatments, Catalent said, allowing developers to more accurately and effectively deliver toxic therapies. And, with Roche's ($RHHBY) recent FDA victory with the ADC-powered Kadcyla, the technology is an in-demand component of biologic anti-cancer treatment, Catalent said.

"We believe that Redwood is an industry leader in site-specific conjugation," Catalent Medication Delivery Solutions President Barry Littlejohns said in a statement. "Their innovative technologies will provide significant value to our customers looking to develop next-generation ADC therapies."

The newly licensed Redwood technology dovetails with Catalent's recent investments in biomanufacturing, the company said, including its new state-of-the-art facility in Wisconsin.

Catalent has already had a busy 2013, investing to its expand its presence around the world and in various therapeutic areas. In January, the company poured about $20 million into North Carolina-based inhalant unit, and last month it launched two Chinese joint ventures, teaming up with local companies for softgel manufacturing and clinical trial supply.

- read Catalent's statement