Until now, the Swiss company has been more focused on large-scale solid phase peptide synthesis and recombinant fermentation technology. The choice of technology generally depends on the number of amino acids, structural complexity, manufacturing quantity and economical viability.
Having started producing peptides in 1997 and expanding into oligonucleotides in 2002, it claims to be the only contract manufacturer with a historically successful track record of providing active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) from any of the three technologies.
An increase in demand for peptide APIs worldwide led to the announced CHF 24 million (€15.5 million) expanding its manufacturing capabilities at its site in Visp, Switzerland in April 2005.
This involved the construction of a new mid-scale plant for oligonucleotides to provide material for clinical trials, additional HPLC-purification and new lyophilization equipment.
Lonza plans to continue manufacturing at UCB-Bioproducts' site in Braine l'Alleud, Belgium, where 300 staff are employed.
Stefan Borgas, chief executive officer of Lonza said: "With this acquisition Lonza further strengthens its position as a worldwide leader in custom peptide manufacturing by continuing to develop the site as a global centre of excellence for the development and manufacture of peptides."
With sales of CHF 2.18 billion (€1.4 billion) in 2004, Lonza currently has 18 production sites around the world, three of which, in Switzerland, the US and Czech Republic, are involved in peptide production.
The Braine l'Alleud site will significantly reduce customers' sourcing risks, said the company, and allow it to deliver additional capacity more quickly.
A report by Frost & Sullivan published last January set the global therapeutic peptides market at around €756 million.
As for UCB, the disposal of the business represents a further step towards its goal of becoming a leader in the global biopharmaceutical area with a specific focus on R&D and commercialisation of therapeutic solutions for severe diseases.