Deal-Making

Astellas turns to next-gen ADCs with $90m Sutro partnership

Astellas will codevelop immunostimulatory antibody-drug conjugates (iADCs) for three biological targets through a partnership with Sutro Biopharma. Japanese biopharma firm Astellas will pay Californian biotech Sutro $90 million but could pay a further $422.5 million in development, regulatory and commercial milestones for each of the three undisclosed oncology candidates. While antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) have established themselves on the commercial front, with 12 approved in the US, Sutro says its engineered iADCs are a potential groundbreaking modality in the treatment of…

invoX acquires bispecific firm F-Star for $161m

invoX Pharma, a Sino Biopharm subsidiary, will pay $161 million to acquire F-Star, a Cambridge, UK clinical stage company developing bispecific drugs for immunotherapies. F-star’s platform technology pioneers the use of tetravalent (2+2) bispecific antibodies. These antibodies target two different antigens and are paired with a unique set of pharmacology agents to activate an immune reaction in the tumor microenvironment. F-Star has four candidates in clinical trials, three from its tetravalent platform and one next-gen STING agonist. invoX, located in…

Charles River bags Ziphius contract in ever-growing RNA space

Charles River Laboratories will manufacture plasmid DNA-based starting materials to support Ziphius Vaccines’ self-amplifying mRNA candidates. The deal will see Belgium-based vaccine developer Ziphius Vaccines leverage Charles River Laboratories’ plasmid DNA network toward clinical testing and further validation of its self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) vaccine candidates. While the specific candidates have not been disclosed, Ziphius’s lead program focuses on COVID-19, though the firm is also looking at developing vaccines against dengue fever, chlamydia, and cystic fibrosis. No financials have been disclosed.…

Galapagos makes ‘surprising’ cell therapy pivot via CellPoint and AboundBio buy

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…

CGT Catapult partnership to develop AAV gene therapies for dementia

The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) and the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) have partnered to drive the development of adeno-associated virus (AAV) based gene therapies for dementia. According to CGT Catapult, dementia is one of the leading causes of mortality in the UK and while treatments are emerging and improving, with no effective treatment options currently available for neurodegenerative conditions, dementia-related deaths are continuing to increase. The UK DRI’s role is to develop an understanding of…

Pfizer takes $95m stake in Lyme disease vaccine partner Valneva

The Equity Subscription Agreement will see Pfizer take an 8.1% share of French vaccine developer Valneva and increase its support of Lyme disease vaccine candidate VLA15. According to Valneva, VLA15 is the only active vaccine program in clinical development against Lyme disease – a vector-borne illness transmitted to humans by infected Ixodes (aka deer or blacklegged) ticks. The multivalent protein subunit vaccine uses an established mechanism of action for a Lyme disease vaccine that targets the outer surface protein A…

Merck buying Seagen would make strategic sense, says analyst

Merck & Co. is eying up the acquisition of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) Seagen, according to media reports. The Wall Street Journal reported late last week that Merck has been in talks regarding a potential acquisition of Seattle, Washington-headquartered Seagen for a while, though a deal is not expected to be imminent. However, such a deal “could make sense strategically,” according to SVB Securities analyst Andrew Berens. “We believe that there are synergies in the Seagen portfolio (three commercial assets and…

MilliporeSigma and Agilent aim to extend PAT to real-time release

Merck Life Science (AKA MilliporeSigma) and Agilent Technologies have teamed up to develop process analytical technologies (PAT), citing growing drug industry demand for systems that support real-time release. The collaboration will combine the German drug maker known as MilliporeSigma in North America and the Life Science business of Merck KGaA elsewhere bioprocessing technologies with Agilent’s analytical systems to extend “real-time monitoring and automated process control of critical process parameters (CPPs) and critical quality attributes (CQAs) to downstream processing” the firms…

Univercells partners with CBET to prep students for CGT space

The partnership will see Univercells Technologies provide support to prepare Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS) students for careers in cell and gene therapy. APHS’ Stack Family Center for Biopharmaceutical Education and Training (CBET) provides research and training solutions for the biopharmaceutical manufacturing space and is Univercells first US-based training partner. Under the terms of the deal, of which financial details have not been divulged, Belgian-based firm Univercells is set to give on-site access and training on cutting…

Charles River and ASC partner to manufacture gene therapy

Charles River Laboratories and ASC Therapeutics have partnered to manufacture ASC618, a second-generation gene therapy that aims to treat hemophilia A. The agreement builds upon the firm’s relationship initiated in 2019 where ASC collaborated with Charles River (previously operating as Vigene Bisosciences prior to the acquisition last May) to use the contract development manufacturing organization’s (CDMOs) processes for adeno-associated virus (AAV) production and purification. According to Charles River, together the firms have established a high-yield upstream process for AAV8 production,…