Regeneron forks out $250m to buy Checkmate Pharmaceuticals

Regeneron will increase its research efforts in immuno-oncology through the all-cash acquisition of Checkmate Pharmaceuticals.

Under the terms of the deal, Regeneron will buy Checkmate at an all-cash price of $10.50 per share of its common stock, which places the proposed acquisition at a total equity value of around $250 million.

Checkmate is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical firm focused on developing technology to treat cancer. Its lead investigational candidate is an advanced generation CpG-A oligodeoxynucleotide Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) delivered in a virus-like particle (VLP) named vidutolimod.

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Vidutolimod is being studied in combinational with other agents for head and neck cancer, melanoma, and non-melanoma skin cancers.

“As we continue to advance and expand our research efforts in immuno-oncology, the acquisition of Checkmate will add a promising new modality to Regeneron’s toolkit of potential approaches for difficult-to-treat cancers,” said Leonard Schleifer, CEO of Regeneron.

“The unique combination of a differentiated Toll-like receptor 9 with other antibody-based oncology agents may result in increased clinical benefit and provide new treatment options for patients in need.”

Vidutolimod works by activating an immune response to the VLP, which leads to the production of antibodies that transfer the VLP into plasmacytoid dendritic cells (Pdc) as well as other immune cells using receptors called FcR.

Then, a signal is sent to pDC and this brings the CpG-A to TLR9 inside the pDC and the CpG-A stimulates TLR9, which brings increased levels of type I interferons resulting in stronger anti-tumor T cell response. Once activated by vidutolimod by the various signals, pDC recruits and coordinates a wide range of immune cells, producing a strong anti-tumor T cell response.

It is administered into the tumor and Checkmate claims it induces and expands anti-tumor T cells and tumor regression as a monotherapy in patients whose tumors have previously progressed on PD-1 checkpoint inhibition.

Vidutolimod has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other regulatory agency but through the acquisition, Regeneron will use its resources to accelerate its development.

Once the acquisition is successfully closed, Regeneron will gain all shares not acquired in the tender through a second-step merger. The transaction is expected to be complete by mid-2022.