Oxford BioMedica shares boom as manufacturer expands complex cancer therapies

British firm that produced the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has signed new clients to help create treatments for rare diseases

Gene specialists Oxford Biomedica has seen a surge in its share prices. Reuters
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Shares in British medical manufacturer Oxford BioMedica have rocketed after it announced an expansion of its work on producing complex therapies that are used to treat cancers and rare diseases.

The cell and gene therapy specialist, which helped manufacture the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, saw its shares jump as much as 16 per cent this week from £243.18 to £289.50 after it announced it would break even earlier than expected and that it was in exclusive talks to buy viral vector manufacturing firm ABL Europe.

The gains came after Oxford Biomedica said it now expects operating core profit to broadly break even by the end of 2024, rather than the first half of 2025.

The company added it expects significant revenue growth in 2024 as existing client projects progress and new customers sign on.

Dr Frank Mathias, Oxford Biomedica’s chief executive, said the acquisition of ABL Europe will enable the firm to have a footprint in the EU.

"Oxford Biomedica is a market leader in the fast-growing gene and cell therapy market. Our expertise and unmatched track record sets us apart, and our focus on being a pure-play cell and gene therapy contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) gives us a unique position in the market," he said.

"Six months into the role, I am fully focused on sustainable growth and our path to profitability – accelerating us to being a pure-play CDMO. With the cell and gene therapy industry at an inflection point, I believe that we are in the right market at the right time, and well-equipped to succeed with our highly skilled workforce and leading-edge technology.

"This has required a transformation and a change of mindset. We are adapting our structure and processes to better serve our clients and work more efficiently. We will now work together as one company with aligned operations from our headquarters here in Oxford, UK, a footprint in the US, and will offer multiple vector types from our multiple sites. I value our staff tremendously and thank everyone for their hard work and contribution to Oxford Biomedica both now and into the future.

"I’m especially excited to announce the potential acquisition of ABL Europe, from Institut Mérieux, as part of our transformation strategy. This would bring us the opportunity to gain a footprint in the EU and greatly enhance our capacity to address the increase in client demand we are seeing. It would also enable us to become an end-to-end CDMO capable of serving customers across both sides of the Atlantic and across vector modalities, leveraging cutting edge science and innovation."

Oxford Biomedica said it has entered talks with Institut Merieux to acquire the French holding company's viral vector manufacturing firm ABL Europe for 15 million euros ($16 million).

The company said since last year it has now signed 50 per cent more clients since the end of 2022, creating a pipeline of work to manufacture the complex therapies used to treat cancers or rare diseases.

It said the addition of ABL Europe’s facilities in Lyon and Strasbourg will allow it to expand its capacity to address increased client demand.

"We are already seeing the success of our new commercial strategy and increased market recognition. Not only did we grow our client base by 50% since the start of the year, but at the end of July we had signed more client orders than we had in the whole of 2022 (excluding Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing)," Dr Mathias said.

"We aim to be the partner of choice for pharma and biotech companies developing life changing cell and gene therapies, enabling them to get their products to market faster and reach more patients. Having already made significant progress, the Board and I are extremely excited about the future of Oxford Biomedica."

Updated: September 21, 2023, 4:06 PM