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Dr. Joseph Zimmermann

Dr. Joseph Zimmermann

President & CEO, Biodextris

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted an unprecedented influx of vaccine and therapeutic projects for Canadian biotech companies — and Biodextris is rising to the challenge.

When pharmaceutical giant GSK restructured their Vaccine development to Belgium in 2015, the doors to its Laval location was destined to close. Many of the researchers and staff at its former Canadian branch faced uncertain futures — until three former employees struck a deal with GSK and founded Biodextris.

Based in Laval, QC, Biodextris specializes in process and analytical development and bio-production of various biologics. Some are destined directly for clinical trial while others are parts of a bigger product.

Diverse teams and diverse industries

Biodextris was founded under the leadership of Dr. Joseph Zimmermann, now President and CEO, and Co-Founders Christine Jacques and Paul Rice. The founders retained the top scientists, researchers, and staff from the GSK closure and have since grown the team and gained recognition as a skilled biologics CDMO (contract development and manufacturing organization) despite its founding only five years ago.

Experienced in addressing the necessary steps between early-stage research and large-scale production, Biodextris services a wide range of industries, from diagnostics to veterinary and medical sciences. And with the support of stakeholders from government, academia, and the private sector, they’re executing several COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic projects.

Preparing for the future

The burning question of the moment — “How fast can every Canadian receive a COVID-19 vaccine?” — depends on domestic production capabilities. Currently, Canada doesn’t have the capacity to manufacture biologics on a scale appropriate to vaccinate the nation’s population against COVID-19. While only smaller batches of a vaccine can be produced domestically, Canada’s health care system relies almost entirely on China, the U.S., and European countries for commercial production of biologics.

Even the federal government has acknowledged that such resources will be critical to both Canada’s long-term public health and the nation’s ability to compete in the global biotech sector.

This is the logical next step for Biodextris. They had already begun assessing shortages in Canada’s biologics supply chain before the pandemic struck, and now, they’re focusing on how large-scale, domestic manufacturing can become a reality.

The COVID-19 pandemic has humbled every country on the planet. In Canada, the need to establish and prepare our own resources for future crises has become apparent. Politics and protectionism could limit public access to necessary therapeutics, vaccines, and other essential items — doubly so if they’re produced outside the nation and require importation. Biodextris is determined to become a significant player as this long-term, national strategy evolves so that Canadians have quick and easy access to life-saving technologies.

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