Sacco System to develop live biotherapeutics for next-generation medicines in Australia

Italian biotechnology company Sacco System has opened a facility in Brisbane to develop live biotherapeutics for next-generation medicines.

Leading Italian biotechnology company Sacco System has opened a facility in Brisbane to develop live biotherapeutics and next-generation bio-organisms. These microbes are becoming a critical ingredient in life-saving vaccines and other therapies. Sacco’s expertise will allow pharmaceutical companies worldwide to manufacture live biotherapeutics at scale for clinical trials.

Australia was an ideal location for Sacco System’s development facility. ‘Australia is a high-quality business location with a stable government, transparent regulations and deep connections to Italy,’ says Max Rossetto, Global Business Development Director, Microbial Therapeutics, Sacco System. ‘There is also an impressive cluster of biotech firms and universities with microbiome programs in Brisbane.

‘Australia is the right place for complicated, challenging value-added work,’ says Rossetto. ‘We want our Australian facility to be the centre of excellence for early development. When there is a complex microbial therapeutics project, Sacco System has the capability and expertise to manage it here.’

From probiotics to biotherapeutics

Sacco System is a 150-year-old family-owned business with a long tradition of continuous innovation and evolution. Based in Cadorago in the province of Como, the company provides active ingredients such as probiotics, enzymes, lactic acid ferments and food microorganisms to the food and beverage industry. It has manufacturing facilities in Italy, Sweden and the US.

In recent years, Sacco System has turned its attention to live biotherapeutics. It is an emerging medical field which is forecast to grow significantly over the coming years. It uses live bacteria and bio-organisms as the active substance in therapies aimed at a growing range of so-far untreated indications.

Live biotherapeutics have many potential applications. For example, they can be used in medicines to treat gut-related diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. Research is being undertaken to see if live biotherapeutics can be incorporated in cancer treatments and in therapies to treat skin conditions and even depression. There are currently only 3 commercially approved drugs that uses live biotherapeutics. Other potential drugs are in clinical trials.

Sacco System’s leading-edge development facility in Brisbane will take customers’ bacterial strains and develop their fermentation process for large-scale manufacturing. The process becomes the customer’s intellectual property, which they use to manufacture biomaterial for clinical trials and eventually the market. Sacco System can also undertake manufacturing for customers at facilities in Italy or the US.

‘We are creating a transferable body of know-how to support our customers’ drug development work,’ says Rossetto. ‘This allows our customers to improve the outcome in some very serious conditions in all stages of life ranging from Crohn’s disease to sepsis in premature babies. Working to reverse these types of medical conditions is what drives all of us.’

Australia’s thriving health and life sciences sector

Sacco System was looking for a development location that offered 3 features. The most important was a thriving health and life sciences ecosystem.

‘This is a science facility, so we wanted access to top-quality research, talent and resources,’ says Rossetto. ‘There is a big cluster of microbiome expertise in Brisbane. The University of Queensland and Griffith University have good microbiome programs. Queensland University of Technology has a Centre for Microbiome Research. Leading Australian biopharmaceutical companies like Servatus and Microba are also in Queensland.’

The availability of graduates ensures Sacco System can find new talent. ‘Our company values creative intelligence and we find young people have unique perspectives,’ says Rossetto. ‘They are the future of our business, so we want to build the talent pool. For instance, we offer opportunities for graduates to work at our facilities in Italy and the US to broaden their knowledge.’

A group of seven people cutting a ribbon at the opening of Sacco System's Brisbane development facility.


Proximity to export markets

Australia’s proximity to the Asia-Pacific region was also attractive. ‘There is growing interest in biotherapeutics in Asia,’ says Rossetto. ‘There are good business opportunities for us in the region. Korea in particular is very interested in biotherapies. We estimate that 90-95% of our business in Australia will be driven by exports to Asia and around the world.’

Having a development facility in Australia also allows Sacco to capitalise on the country’s reputation for safe, high-quality production and manufacturing. ‘Asia has a lot of respect for goods that originate from Australia,’ says Rossetto. ‘That’s great for our business.’

A welcoming business environment

‘Australia’s stable economy and government were reassuring,’ adds Rossetto. ‘The country’s transparent regulations and strong intellectual property laws protected our business. We found it easy to set up our operation in Australia.’

Australia’s egalitarian, friendly culture was also a great fit for the family-owned business. ‘It’s made it easy to transfer our company culture,’ says Rossetto. ‘The people who come here from Italy love living and working in Australia – they don’t want to go home! The similar values between our countries were important for us.’

How Austrade helped

Austrade has provided a range of assistance to support Sacco System’s expansion plans. This includes market insights, details about the Australian ecosystem, grant and incentive programs, and export market support.

‘Austrade has always been very helpful, and I count on their support,’ says Rossetto.

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