AstraZeneca laying cell therapy ambitions with $200m Neogene buy

AstraZeneca will dive into the solid tumor cell therapy space through the acquisition of T-cell receptor therapy firm Neogene Therapeutics.

The deal, set to close in the first quarter 2023, sees Anglo-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca shell out $200 million upfront to buy Neogene, though the total could be up to $320 million depending on milestones.

Neogene is a developer and manufacturer of next-generation, T-cell receptor therapies (TCR-Ts) targeting neoantigens in solid cancers. The firm’s technology platform identifies the neoantigens of the patient’s tumor, as well as TCR genes specific for these neoantigens within the tumor biopsies with high sensitivity and specificity, forming the basis for a fully individualized T cell therapy of the patient’s cancer.

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“This acquisition represents a unique opportunity to bring innovative science and leading experts in T-cell receptor biology and cell therapy manufacturing together with our internal oncology cell therapy team, unlocking new ways to target cancer,” said Susan Galbraith, EVP of Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca.

“Neogene’s leading TCR discovery capabilities and extensive manufacturing experience complement the cell therapy capability we have built over the last three years and allow us to accelerate the development of potentially curative cell therapies for the benefit of patients.”

Unlike many of its Big Pharma peers, AstraZeneca has been relatively quiet about investing in cell and gene therapies. However, an article from Evaluate Vantage recently revealed the firm has more of an interest in the space than publicized and has an anti-Steap2 CAR-T therapy (AZD0754) potentially heading for trials.