Every month, MassBio spotlights a member company and the great work they’re doing to advance the life sciences industry and support the patients we serve. For March, we spoke with Yvette Stallwood PhD., Head of Lonza Early Development Services. Yvette completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham (UK) and has a background in Virology, Cell & Molecular Biology. She leads Lonza’s Early Development Services. Her team is focused on de-risking the lead selection, optimization and early development phases of biotherapeutic proteins and vaccines with a particular focus on developability assessment and small scale protein expression.
Tell us about your organization, its mission, and current initiatives
Lonza’s vision is to bring any therapy to life. We optimize scientific innovation and manufacturing technology to enable our customers to serve their patients and consumers. We provide a wide range of services and products from active pharmaceutical ingredients to innovative dosage forms for the pharma, consumer health and nutrition industries. Our offerings and scale mean we can provide our customers a one-stop solution of development and manufacturing services and technologies, from early phase drug discovery to commercial supply, and from drug substance to drug product, across a variety of molecule types.
In 2021, we supported more than 780 preclinical and clinical small and large molecules, more than 245 commercial small and large molecules and produced around 250 billion capsules.
How does your organization’s activities help patients now and into the future?
By combining technological insight with manufacturing, scientific expertise and process excellence, we help our biotech and pharmaceutical customers to deliver new and innovative medicines that help treat a wide range of diseases. Our purpose is to enable a healthier world, and this motivates us to deliver for our customers and their patients, every single day.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the life sciences industry today?
My answer is threefold;
- Despite improvements in technologies, attrition rates remain high, therefore keeping costs associated with drug development high. Reducing attrition rates is critically important, specifically the identification and mitigation of potential issues early in development.
- Biotech funding goes through cycles. During downturns, additional pressure is placed on resources and there is greater focus on the early de-risking to help reach clinical proof-of-concept as efficiently as possible. At Lonza, about 60% of our early phase customers are small or emerging biotech companies. Backed by decades of experience, we offer flexible solutions tailored to their milestones and needs.
- Drug candidates are increasingly innovative and complex. More complex therapies, including cell and gene therapies, are seeing very high demand along with a growing appetite to increase manufacturing speed.
There are many innovations which aim to address these challenges, from the technologies being used to develop and manufacture to the types of biopharmaceuticals themselves. We are seeing an increased use of bioinformatics, protein engineering, and risk mitigation platforms. Their use helps to reduce costs and accelerate development, especially from gene to IND, which – in the end – benefit the patient most.
What’s next for your organization / what are you focused on in the coming year?
We will continue to offer our clients world-class services and products that can support them through the process of bringing their therapies to life. Late discovery to IND phase of drug development is mostly carried out by small biotech companies and we will continue to offer personalized development programs to meet our customers timelines, molecule needs and investors’ requirements. Drug development has become increasingly competitive and leaves little room for error or delay. Selecting and optimizing the right lead candidate is critical and helps to maximize the chances of a successful First-in-Human campaign. For over 15 years, Lonza’s Early Development experts have been supporting biotech and pharma customers in assessing, de-risking, and optimizing biotherapeutic drug candidates. Building on this expertise, we will expand our Early Development Services footprint this May by opening a new lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts (US) close to Kendall Square. The site will mirror the already trusted early non-GMP expression and in vitro immunogenicity assessment services that we offer in the UK, making it easier for North American customers to access our services.
For more information, visit: In Silico & In Vitro Services | Early Drug Development | Lonza
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