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28 Dec 2019

Acquisition in Pharma: Why Astellas to acquire Xyphos Biosciences?

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Astellas Pharma Inc. has agreed to acquire Xyphos Biosciences, Inc.

Why Astellas acquired Xyphos? 

  • With the acquisition Astellas will gain Xyphos’ novel and proprietary ACCEL (Advanced Cellular Control through Engineered Ligands) technology platform, as well as industry-leading immuno-oncology talent, to develop new and potentially better ways to mobilize, target and control immune cells to find, modulate and destroy targeted cells throughout the body.
  • At Astellas, immuno-oncology is Primary Focus of our research and development strategy. Astellas is working on the development of next-generation cancer immuno-therapy using new modalities / technologies.
  • The innovative technology in development at Xyphos fits perfectly in advancing our immuno-oncology strategy to create and deliver value for patients.
  • For Xyphos, Astellas is an ideal partner to advance our proprietary NKG2D-based NK-cell and T-cell platform to the next stage of clinical exploration.

Xyphos has developed a flexible and versatile synthetic biology platform to direct cells of the immune system to target single or multiple tumor antigens while controlling the immune cell proliferation and endurance. Xyphos’s proprietary molecules can be delivered to natural immune cells or to engineered Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) cells to generate immunotherapies for oncology. Xyphos’ patented CAR technology is based on an engineered modification to a natural human receptor named NKG2D. NKG2D exists on natural killer (NK) cells and some T-cells. The designed modification of NKG2D renders it inert, that is, unable to bind to any of its natural ligands, which occur on stressed cells. Through further protein engineering, several natural ligands of NKG2D have been modified to bind exclusively to the otherwise inert NKG2D receptor. Various functional molecules (for example, antibodies that recognize specific tumor antigens) are attached to the modified ligand. The ligand-directed functional molecules then bind exclusively to immune cells expressing the inert CAR on their surface – the proprietary convertibleCAR®-cells. The CAR-cells can be directed by the ligand-bound antibody to seek, become activated and attacks a targeted cancer cell. Xyphos’ first convertibleCAR-T cell product candidate is in preclinical development and scheduled to be tested in a first-in-human clinical study in 2021.

Considering the acquisition, $ 120 million was paid upon closing of the acquisition, and Xyphos became a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas. In addition to this payment and potential future development milestone payments, it will provide a total transaction value of $ 665 million.

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