GenScript Biotech Reports First Half 2021 Results

Posts explosive growth in GCT CDMO business and strategic GCT investments

NANJING, ChinaAug. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — GenScript Biotech Corporation (HKEX: 1548.HK) (GenScript) today reported its first half 2021 financial results for the six months ended June 30. It also announced that the Group has expanded its presence in the gene and cell therapy (GCT) industry with aggressive investments.

In the first half of 2021, the Group maintained strong momentum across all business segments. Total revenue increased by 38% to USD 229.6 million, and gross profit increased by 28.1% to USD 138.6 million.

The Group’s non-cell therapy business revenue increased by 36.6% to USD 195.7 million, with gross profit of USD 104.7 million, a 23.0% YoY increase, including its GCT CDMO business’ historic breakthrough in explosive revenue growth. This built on the Group’s early investments in the field and advantages in plasmid and lentivirus R&D and manufacturing solutions. For the Group’s cell therapy business, revenue increased by 46.8% YoY to USD 33.9 million, benefitting from continued recognition of its successes and milestone investments.

As the world’s No. 1 gene synthesis supplier, GenScript has laid a strong technical foundation for its GCT business. As GenScript’s life science services and products business, biologics CDMO business, and cell therapy business are all achieving strong momentum, the Group’s is expanding its presence throughout the GCT value chain by investing aggressively.

In the first half of 2021, R&D expenses increased by 51.6% YoY to USD 175.1 million. The non-cell therapy business invested about 10% of its revenue in GMP facility construction and other infrastructure expansion. The cell therapy business spent USD154.5 million on R&D, a 52.1% YoY increase, with an investment focus on clinical studies of cilta-cel and manufacturing facilities that support the business’ ongoing clinical trials and future commercialization.

GenScript is ushering in the rise of GCT as the next biotech industry revolution, tapping into the huge potential of CRO and CDMO platforms. Over the next two to three years, the life science business and biologics CDMO business will increase their strategic investments into the field. This includes investments in GCT-related services, utilizing automation technology to upgrade production lines, and accelerate the launch of ongoing cell therapy products and R&D in new pipelines.

Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs M. Varvitsiotis’ interview on REAL FM 97.8 radio station with journalist G. Papadopoulos-main points (23.08.2021)

“Greece does not share borders with Afghanistan so as to be the country which Afghans who feel threatened by the Taliban regime want to seek refuge in,” Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis made clear in an interview today with REAL FM 97.8 and journalist G. Papadopoulos. As he added, “we are not going to adopt practices of the past such as the one of ‘we have opened our borders and we are waiting for you’; Greece already hosts tens of thousands of Afghans, a very large percentage of whom live in our country under asylum status”. He also pointed out that “Greece cannot be a country of first asylum for Afghan refugees and this message has been sent primarily by the Prime Minister and by us all in both bilateral and multilateral contacts”.

Regarding the position of the European Union, Mr. Varvitsiotis noted that “Europe has swept the issue of refugees and migrants under the carpet”, underlining the serious reservations Greece and the other Mediterranean countries hold about the new Pact on Migration and Asylum proposed by the Commission. The Alternate Minister stressed that Greece has two main requests, “first of all, that there should be a financial burden-sharing for hosting refugees, and secondly that there should be serious relocation and repatriation agreements concerning illegal and irregular migrants”.

Asked about the impact of the refugee wave from Afghanistan on Greek-Turkish relations and the contact by telephone between the Greek Prime Minister and the Turkish President, Mr. Varvitsiotis pointed out that the Turkish President is “pressured by this situation internally”, while, he added, that the message is being received that Turkey’s policy is changing in comparison to the one it pursued in Syria, where it tried to make use of the hospitality it gave to the Syrians.

Finally, Mr. Varvitsiotis noted that so far three Greek citizens have been successfully repatriated from Afghanistan.

Conagen Expands Natural Preservation by Fermentation

Bedford, Mass., Aug. 24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As the “clean label” trend thrives in many consumer product categories, Massachusetts-based biotech Conagen announced the launch of a natural preservative, p-Coumaric Acid (PCA). Conagen’s PCA is made by fermentation and expands the natural preservatives offered by its commercialization partner Blue California.

The natural preservation market is driven by consumer exploration of clean-label food, beverage, personal care, and cosmetic product which do not contain artificial ingredients while still possessing extended shelf life.

In a published Mintel report Feb. 2021, U.S. Consumers were polled on relating ‘naturalness’ with ‘health, “43% of U.S. consumers have the perception that “all-natural” is an important factor when choosing healthy food and beverages.”

Food and beverage manufacturers are moving away from artificial ingredients in their processing and packaging methods. Therefore, new sources of natural preservatives, such as Conagen’s natural, fermentation-derived PCA, are ideal for brands to make a seamless change from synthetic preservation ingredients to natural ones.

“Our PCA expands the toolbox for product developers looking for a scalable, low cost-in-use, natural solution for increasing the shelf life of food without interfering with the flavor of their products,” said Conagen’s Vice President of Innovation, Dr. Casey Lippmeier.

PCA is a natural antioxidant and antimicrobial compound found in all plants, primarily peanuts, tomatoes, carrots, basil, and garlic. It is a key constituent of wine, vinegar, and honey.

Conagen produces PCA by an innovative precision fermentation process. This technology enables the cultivation of micro-organisms programmed to create sustainable, natural ingredients with high purity at a price competitive with synthetic PCA. PCA by fermentation is ideal for industrial applications as well.

“A sustainable source of PCA is also desirable as a precursor for different biopolymers and other high-tech biomaterials made with ‘green chemistry,”‘ said Lippmeier.

Green chemicals are a part of the global discussion on climate change and large chemical companies’ accelerating adoption of sustainable materials. “The novel polymers and co-polymers which can be made by fermentation-derived PCA enable the development of environmentally safer bioplastics and new applications in biomedicine,” said Lippmeier.

As an alternative to chemically synthesized compounds like bisphenol-A, PCA is a multifunctional natural and sustainable solution found in food to enable new and novel products by formulators and material scientists.

In the industrial applications space, PCA is ideal in coatings, composites, adhesives, and polymers for biomedical, transportation, aerospace, electronics, and packaging, just to name a few.

Last year, Blue California and Conagen jointly announced the commercialization of a 98% pure natural preservative, Rosavel™ rosmarinic acid, without the intensity of rosemary flavor and color as with most synthetic ingredients.  Another important natural preservative molecule derived from Conagen’s platform technologies is BC-DHQTM taxifolin, which secured GRAS status as announced last May.
About Conagen

Conagen is making the impossible possible. Our scientists and engineers use the latest synthetic biology tools to develop high-quality sustainable nature-based products through systems of manufacturing on a molecular level and fermentation basis. We focus on the bioproduction of high-value ingredients for food, nutrition, flavors and fragrances, pharmaceutical, and renewable materials industries.

About Blue California

Blue California is a vertically integrated technology company providing innovative ingredient solutions to global partners. With more than 20 years of innovation success, our ingredients are used in commercial products and applications in the industries of nutrition, personal care, healthy aging and wellness, functional food and beverage, and beauty.


Ana Arakelian

How Twitter ban is affecting Nigerian journalists two months after

It’s about 60 days since the Federal Government of Nigeria banned Twitter in the country. In this article, MFWA’s correspondent in Nigeria examines the ban’s impact on journalists and their work. The article also explores the possibility of a restoration of the microblogging platform in the country.

It’s been over two months since Nigeria joined the league of countries like China, Iran, North Korea and Turkmenistan that banned the operations of social networking giant, Twitter, claiming the microblogging platform’s activities are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

The government blocked Twitter access on June 4, two days after the social media platform deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari for violating the company’s policies.

Buhari’s tweet referenced the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-70, during which more than one million people reportedly died when secessionists from the country’s southeast region sought to create an independent Biafra nation for the Igbo ethnic people.

Buhari’s tweet mentioned that he would deal with current secessionists in “the language they will understand.” The tweet’s genocidal tone caused a wave of protest on Twitter, prompting the social media platform to delete it. In retaliation, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, announced in a statement that the government would be indefinitely suspending the site’s operations.

Twitter has played a key role for journalists and activists in Nigeria with hashtags like #EndSARS bringing to global attention the brutality suffered by many citizens, especially youths, in the hands of the police.

Hence, since the suspension of the social media platform, several journalists who spoke with the Media Foundation for West Africa’s correspondent in Nigeria shared how it had affected their work.

Mr Innocent Duru, a journalist with The Nation Newspaper in Lagos, said he used to explore Twitter to source for story tips, noting that this avenue had been blocked since the ban on the social media platform.

“Information and contacts that one would have easily accessed on Twitter became difficult to get as a result of the ban,” he told MFWA.

“Twitter gave me the opportunity to get in touch with those who share information on the platform to do a follow-up. This has not been possible following the ban. Also, I previously used to get people to interview on Twitter. This has not been possible again,” he added.

Furthermore, Duru said he always shares the links to his stories on Twitter, enabling him to get public feedback. However, this has not been possible again.

Also, Ms Elfredah Kevin, a journalist with the online news outlet in Abuja, said the Twitter ban had really affected her work.

“As a journalist who most times source information from Twitter or sometimes see certain threads that are newsworthy and explore stories from them, today, all these seem not to be working well for me,” she said.

Many Nigerians still tweeting use the Virtual Private Network (NPN) to bypass censorship, but Kevin said the problem was that VPN slows down her device, making it difficult to access any information she needs on Twitter quickly.

“VPN usually slows down the network and this is a big challenge for me. Most times, whenever I turn on VPN to access Twitter, the network drastically goes down and it takes time to load, and when it eventually loads, it is difficult to have the needed and timely information,” she said.

Mr Tobi Aworinde of The Punch Newspaper in Lagos said he now uses free VPN on his smartphone to access Twitter but said he had been unable to find a free VPN for his laptop, the device that he most times uses for work.

So, having to look up tweets for story tips when using the laptop has been a major constraint for him ever since the ban.

“I have had to resort to using my phone for tasks such as online searches on Twitter and reaching newsmakers and sources via the app,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Mayowa Tijani, a fact-checking reporter with AFP and business editor at TheCable in Lagos, said the ban on Twitter had affected his work both positively and negatively.

“On the negative side, we have seen a general reduction in engagement from Nigerians who cannot or are not willing to join Twitter conversations using VPN. This also means journalists’ stories are reaching fewer people and having a perhaps lesser impact on the general public,” he said.

However, on the positive side, Tijani said he noticed the ban had reduced the spread and frequency of government-driven propaganda and misinformation in Nigeria.

Mr Sikiru Obarayese, a reporter with the Daily Post in Osogbo, the capital of Osun state in southwestern Nigeria, also said because of the Twitter ban, he had been unable to connect with sources typically found on the platform.

“Not everyone knows there is a way of accessing Twitter despite the ban, hence this has greatly reduced engagement with audience on the application, thereby making it hard to get feedback on reports,” he told MFWA.

A freelance journalist based in Sokoto, the capital city of Sokoto state in northwestern Nigeria, Mr Olokooba Abdulwasiu, succinctly put it that “denying me access to Twitter is like taking away my food.”

Hope on the horizon?

The Twitter ban has continued to generate backlash from both local and international communities, who aver that the Nigerian government’s action stifles press freedom and freedom of expression, contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian constitution and African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

On August 4, the United States Consul General in Lagos, Ms Claire Pierangelo, did not mince words in saying the Twitter ban was a threat to human rights.

She further described the Nigerian government’s threat to prosecute those who use VPN to tweet as an encroachment on press freedom, freedom of expression, and civic space.

“History is full of cautionary tales showing that when governments try to limit citizens’ right to talk about certain topics, important conversations are pushed into the shadows. Rigorous debate promotes transparency and social stability,” Pierangelo said at an event in Lagos.

Despite the Twitter ban, the US diplomat urged reporters, editors, media executives, and civil society organisations to remain vigilant to protect the right to freedom of expression and press freedom.

Nigerian media analyst and lawyer based in the United States, Dr Kunle Ibrahim, told MFWA on the phone that the Twitter ban was a sign that the government was intolerant to criticisms.

“Governments that decide to shut platforms like Twitter don’t want the citizens to criticise them; they are afraid of their corrupt deeds to be exposed. That is the meaning I can read to the Twitter ban,” he said.

However, the Nigerian government has hinted that it may lift the Twitter ban soon based on some understanding reached with the social media company.

Local news outlets reported that Mr Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, on August 11, told journalists that progress had been made in resolving the disagreement between the parties following series of meetings.

Mohammed claimed that most of the conditions given to Twitter had been accepted by the company, but said the remaining condition was that the social media giant must register and open an office in Nigeria.

The minister assured that “everything will be ironed out with Twitter within a matter of days or weeks.”

In Twitter’s response seen by MFWA, the company did not mention reaching an agreement with the Nigerian government but said it was anticipating that Nigerians could start using the platform soon.

“Our aim is to chart a path forward to the restoration of Twitter for everyone in Nigeria. We look forward to ongoing discussions with the Nigerian government and seeing the service restored very soon,” Twitter’s notice read.

The MFWA remains deeply worried by the Twitter ban in Nigeria because this amounts to a clampdown on press freedom and freedom of speech, which are both guaranteed in sections 22 and 39 of the Nigerian constitution, respectively.

We urge the government to quickly reverse the ban for the citizens to continue expressing their opinions guaranteed under Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Nigeria is a signatory to.

Statement regarding the provision of humanitarian aid from Greece to Haiti

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will donate the amount of 100.000 Euros to an International Organization already operating in Haiti.

This aid is a contribution to addressing the humanitarian needs which have arisen following the recent earthquake that hit the country, as well as the hurricane that followed.

With this symbolic move, Greece today stands in solidarity with the suffering Haitian people and does not forget that Haiti was the first country in the world to recognize Greece’s independence in 1822.

It is noted that Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias has expressed his will to visit Haiti as soon as possible, when the epidemiological and political conditions allow.