Essential Pharma reaches agreement with AGC Biologics for late phase clinical manufacturing of its immunotherapy candidate for the treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma

Essential Pharma reaches agreement with AGC Biologics for late phase clinical manufacturing of its immunotherapy candidate for the treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma

Egham, UK and Copenhagen, Denmark – 11 June, 2024 – Essential Pharma, an international specialty pharma group focused on ensuring that patients have sustainable access to low volume, clinically differentiated, niche pharmaceutical products across key therapeutic areas, today announced its rare disease business has signed a strategic agreement with AGC Biologics. As a leading global biopharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO), AGC Biologics will produce Hu1418K322A (Hu14.18), a humanised monoclonal antibody being developed for Essential Pharma for the treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma (HRNB).

Under the agreement, AGC Biologics will support the process development, scale-up and manufacturing as Essential Pharma plans to commence clinical activities and ongoing regulatory agency interactions over the coming months.

Simon Ball, Vice President of the rare disease business at Essential Pharma, commented: "This partnership is a tremendous milestone in the development of Hu14.18 and its path to commercialization. The prospect of building an inventory of Hu14.18 is very exciting. Ahead of us is a period of intense regulatory agency interaction, which will take place alongside late-stage clinical development, and we are a step closer to providing this high-potential antibody to a patient group that is desperately in need of more optimal treatments and better outcomes.”

"AGC Biologics is a global leader in contract antibody development and manufacturing,” stated Emma Johnson, CEO of Essential Pharma. “This partnership will help us to accelerate the late-stage development of Hu14.18, which shows therapeutic promise for high-risk neuroblastoma patients, the majority of whom are young children. We look forward to working closely with AGC to deliver this potentially transformative therapy in an area of significant unmet need.”

Christoph Winterhalter, CBO at AGC Biologics, said: “We are very pleased that Essential Pharma has chosen us to manufacture this innovative therapy. Our Copenhagen site has the expertise and experience in therapeutic antibodies to accelerate the late-stage development and manufacturing of Hu14.18. We look forward to partnering with Essential Pharma and working together to ensure the product meets the high level of quality, yield and all data packages needed to successfully master future clinical trials and regulatory agency submissions to supply patients across the globe with this life-saving product.”

Essential Pharma acquired Renaissance Pharma in April 2024 and is now responsible for the development of Hu14.18. A Phase II trial incorporating Hu14.18 into first-line therapy, and additionally within post-consolidation therapy for HRNB patients, demonstrated positive patient outcomes with 3-year event-free survival (EFS) of 73.7% and overall survival (OS) of 86.0%. Data from this study were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in December 2021 and are approaching five-year OS readouts.1

About Essential Pharma

Essential Pharma is an international specialty pharmaceutical group dedicated to maintaining access to clinically differentiated, niche medicines in small patient populations. The group has been an important and valued partner to healthcare providers for over 20 years by giving underserved patient populations access to medicines that otherwise might not be available, and addressing clinical unmet needs. Essential Pharma operates globally in more than 70 countries, supplying a portfolio of products with a focus on the central nervous system (CNS), gastroenterology, ophthalmology, and rare disease. The group’s growth strategy is centred on portfolio optimisation and a targeted M&A approach to acquire commercial and late-clinical stage assets in the four therapeutic areas of focus. It is a trusted partner to pharma companies of all sizes, with a proven history of integrating assets and managing complex technology transfers seamlessly while ensuring continuous and sustainable supply to patients.

Essential Pharma is backed by Gyrus Capital, an investment firm dedicated to transformational investments in sectors with long-term sustainable growth, including healthcare.

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About AGC Biologics  

AGC Biologics is a leading global biopharmaceutical Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) with a strong commitment to delivering the highest standard of service as we work side-by-side with our clients and partners, every step of the way. We provide world-class development and manufacture of mammalian and microbial-based therapeutic proteins, plasmid DNA (pDNA), messenger RNA (mRNA), viral vectors, and genetically engineered cells. Our global network spans the U.S., Europe, and Asia, with cGMP-compliant facilities in Seattle, Washington; Boulder and Longmont, Colorado; Copenhagen, Denmark; Heidelberg, Germany; Milan, Italy; and Chiba, Japan. We currently employ more than 2,500 Team Members worldwide. Our commitment to continuous innovation fosters the technical creativity to solve our clients’ most complex challenges, including specialization in fast-track projects and rare diseases. AGC Biologics is a part of AGC Inc.’s Life Science Company. The Life Science company runs ten different facilities focused on biopharmaceuticals, advanced therapies, small molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients, and agrochemicals.  To learn more, visit   


Essential Pharma

Emma Johnson, CEO

Tel: +44(0)1784 477 167


ICR Consilium

Tracy Cheung/Chris Welsh/Isabelle Abdou

Tel: +44 (0) 20 3709 5700


AGC Biologics

Nick McDonald

Sr. Global Marketing and Commuincations Manager


1 Furman WL, McCarville B, Shulkin BL, Davidoff A, Krasin M, Hsu CW, et al. Improved Outcome in Children With Newly Diagnosed High-Risk Neuroblastoma Treated With Chemoimmunotherapy: Updated Results of a Phase II Study Using hu14.18K322A. Journal of Clinical Oncology [Internet]. 2022 Feb 1;40(4):335–44. Available from: