Small molecule biotech Galapagos has jumped into the cell therapy space through the acquisitions of Cellpoint and AboundBio for €125 ($130) million and $14 million, respectively.
The deals move Galapagos into the advanced therapy space, through the addition of Cellpoint’s chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy pipeline and decentralized manufacturing technology.
Dutch biotech CellPoint’s point-of-care supply model, which leverages with Lonza’s closed, automated Cocoon platform, claims to offer 7-day delivery of CAR-T therapies while avoiding logistical complexities associated with the ex vivo modality. The firm is aiming to bring three CAR-Ts to the clinic over the next three years.
The candidates originated from Pennsylvania-based AboundBio’s fully human antibody-based library and biological drug discovery and engineering capabilities, which Galapagos is also buying for $14 million.
“It is a first key step in the transformation of Galapagos to accelerate and renew our pipeline by focusing on high unmet needs, and look for opportunities that could be transformational for patients in the short term (and thus creating value faster),” a spokesperson from the firm told this publciation.
“By acquiring both CellPoint and AboundBio at the same time, we move into cell therapy in an accelerated way. The disruptive delivery model of CellPoint […] combined with the research engine that AboundBio brings in terms of new modalities and multi-targeting CAR-Ts, as well as the current clinical pipeline of CellPoint provides a strong foundation to expand and diversify our pipeline. Also, through the acquisitions we bring in key expert sin the field of oncology and cell therapy.”
Brian Abrahams, an analyst from RBC Capital Markets, said that though these are “relatively small acquisitions,” they represent a “surprise leap into cell therapy” suggesting “a pivot to new modalities that might generate additional topline from acquired assets and potentially from novel antibody and cell therapy platform capabilities.”
He continued: “The upfronts for the acquisitions are modest (€125 million and €14 million) relative to Galapagos’s ample balance sheet and though we await more clarity on plans […] we believe the new capabilities could align somewhat with partner (and key stakeholder) Gilead’s oncology franchise.”
Galapagos received a $3.95 billion upfront payment from CAR-T pioneer Gilead Sciences in 2019, along with a $1.1 billion equity investment, for access to Galapagos’ drug discovery platform and current and future pipeline outside of Europe.