Ricoh Jumps into Pharmaceutical Business with U.S. Startup Acquisition.

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Date: Tuesday May 17, 2022 03:44:32 pm | Views: 487
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    TOKYO — Ricoh will acquire U.S.-based biotechnology startup Elixirgen Scientific as early as July in a push to turn messenger RNA technology into a core business, Nikkei has learned.

    Known largely for office equipment like printers, Ricoh acquired a 34.5% stake in Elixirgen back in 2019. The Japanese company now looks to a become majority owner of the startup in a new deal estimated to be worth billions of yen, or tens of millions of dollars, entering the business of contract production for mRNA pharmaceuticals.

    mRNA pharmaceuticals teach cells to produce certain proteins in order to trigger a protective immune response or achieve other ends. The technology has gained widespread attention for its use in COVID-19 vaccines.

    Elixirgen became Japan’s first contract manufacturer of mRNA pharmaceuticals in September 2021. Its facility at Shonan Health Innovation Park in Kanagawa Prefecture now has the capacity to produce 100 mg per week.

    Ricoh will invest more than 1 billion yen ($7.73 million) to expand this to 60 grams a week by 2025 — a level equivalent to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines a year — drawing on know-how in production management gained from manufacturing office equipment and other mainline products.

    It aims for combined sales of 20 billion yen in 2025 from contract mRNA pharmaceutical production and supporting new-drug development.

    Other Japanese companies are making further inroads into mRNA-related materials. Takara Bio will start producing a reagent for mRNA vaccines as early as autumn, while soy sauce maker Yamasa supplies Pfizer and Moderna with pseudouridine, a raw material for mRNA vaccines.

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