Merck KGaA acquires acoustic tech to industrialise cell therapy production

The German company says it is the first to use the FloDesign Sonics's acoustic cell processing technology in cell therapy manufacturing

Photo as seen on FloDesign Sonics website

Merck KGaA's MilliporeSigma has announced it has acquired Massachusetts-based FloDesign Sonics the developer of a unique acoustic cell processing platform for the industrialisation of cell and gene therapy manufacturing. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.

Udit Batra, member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO of Life Science explained that Chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapies (CART-T) employ the body's own immune systems to fight cancer by turning T cells into targeted therapeutics. This revolutionary cancer treatment is challenging and complex, with the process often taking up to a month.

Batra said: "Our acquisition of FloDesign Sonics will industrialise the manufacturing of autologous cell therapy, allowing these types of potentially life-saving treatments to reach more patients, faster."

Merck says it is the first company to make acoustic technology available for cell therapy manufacturing. Acoustic cell processing is a disruptive technology that allows for the manipulation of cells with ultrasonic waves. FloDesign Sonics' acoustic cell processing platform allows enhanced cell washing and concentration for manufacturing cell therapies.

The acquisition is a strategic fit for Merck, strengthening the ability alongside pharmaceutical manufacturers to advance cell-based therapies to patients.

"Merck is the best home for FloDesign Sonics, our acoustic cell processing technology and our employees," said Stanley Kowalski III, co-founder, Chairman and CEO of FloDesign Sonics.

Founded in 2009, the company develops an acoustic cell processing platform for cell and gene therapy applications. FDS just recently (Q1 2019) launched its first commercial product (Ekko) which allows the wash, concentration and formulation within Autologous CAR-T Manufacturing workflow.

Though there has been no relevant commercial revenue yet (2019: €0.8 million), the company has 52 granted patents and >200 applied.

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