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ARCHIMED backs Xpress Biologics, a leading provider of plasmid DNA for advanced therapy medicinal products




In partnership with founders and management, ARCHIMED will finance a 10-fold expansion of Xpress Biologics’ production capacity based on the implementation of GMP services.

ARCHIMED announces the acquisition of a majority stake in Liège, Belgium-based Xpress Biologics. The company, founded in 2014, is a leading developer of expression systems and manufacturing processes for the production of plasmid DNA and protein therapeutics. Plasmid DNA is the most in-demand starting material for the production of medicines in the fast-growing field of gene and cell-based therapies as well as for mRNA-based vaccines. Such Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products are transforming the treatment of life-threatening conditions, including genetic disorders such as spinal muscular atrophy and diseases caused by viral infection, including Covid-19. The plasmid DNA market, worth an estimated $1.1 billion this year, is expected to grow at a high double-digit rate over the next five years.

As part of the transaction, founders Christian Rodriguez, Philippe Ledent and Marc Daukandt will be reinvesting all of their proceeds back into Xpress Biologics. Noshaq, the public sector investor promoting the development of the Liège region, will also reinvest.

“Our confidence in the competitive strength of Xpress Biologics is based on the superiority of our process to produce highly purified plasmid DNA in a time-effective way,” says Daukandt. “With ARCHIMED’S backing, Xpress Biologics will be able to expand plasmid production by a factor of ten, taking a bigger share of the gene and cell therapy market following recent mRNA, Covid-19 and gene therapy breakthroughs,” says the company’s new Chief Executive, Carola Jüstel. “This will allow us to onboard larger customers, with a particular focus on internationalizing distribution in the US and in the Asia-Pacific region.” Jüstel was previously Chief Executive of Pepscan and Senior Vice President of Recombinant Research & Development at Octapharma. In the latter role she oversaw development and production of blockbuster recombinant blood clotting Factor VIII, using FDA compliant Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). ARCHIMED is adding further experience at Board level with the recruitment of Jürgen Pohle, as Chairman. Pohle was previously Chief Executive Officer at Neovii Pharmaceuticals and held several senior executive roles at Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics. Rémi Gloekler will also be joining the Board to contribute his deep expertise in biologics chemistry, manufacturing and control. He was previously Executive Vice President of Quality Assurance and Pharmaceutical Operations at therapeutic vaccines specialist Transgene.

“Given our years of experience in the gene and cell therapy industry, supporting a major GMP capacity expansion at Xpress Biologics is a perfect fit for us,” says ARCHIMED Partner, Loïc Kubitza. “Xpress Biologics’ team has done an amazing job developing a superior production process and is now ready to scale up.” “Including Polyplus-transfection [which multiplied its revenues by a factor of ten in four years with ARCHIMED’S backing], we have now supported a significant number of life science companies on both sides of the Atlantic.” says ARCHIMED Chairman, Denis Ribon. “ARCHIMED has become a recognized leader when it comes to helping life science companies scale up in Europe and North America.”

ARCHIMED invested in Xpress Biologics through its MED II fund, which partners with growth companies in the European and North American small-cap healthcare sectors, buying majority stakes for €5 million to €30 million in association with existing owners and managers.

ARCHIMED also manages MED I, currently ranked the best performing buyout fund at a global level for the 2014 vintage, according to Preqin data. MED I has distributed more than four times invested capital to limited partners and has a total return in excess of six times invested capital.