LONDON, 27 Dec (APM) - Astellas has bought U.S. biotech Xyphos Biosciences to strengthen its immuno-oncology business, its second acquisition this month, it was announced on Friday.
With the latest acquisition, Astellas gains Xyphos' novel 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 "mobilise, target and control immune cells to find, modulate and destroy targeted cells throughout the body", the Japanese pharma said in a joint statement
Astellas' chief executive Kenji Yasukawa said: "At Astellas, immuno-oncology is a primary focus of our research and development strategy, and we are 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. Combining this technology with our capabilities in cell therapy that we have been working on so far, we can create next-generation high-function cells and maximise the value of our technology."
Xyphos CEO James Knighton said Astellas is an ideal partner to advance its proprietary NKG2D-based NK-cell and T-cell platform to the next stage of clinical exploration.
The statement said Xyphos has developed a flexible and versatile synthetic biology platform to direct cells of the immune system to target single or multiple tumour antigens while controlling the immune cell proliferation and endurance, the joint statement added.
The biotech'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.
Astellas has paid $120 million upfront, with milestone payments making up the rest to a potential total of $665 million, they added.
Earlier this month, Astellas announced it is buying U.S. gene therapy specialist Audentes Therapeutics for $3 billion as part of its increasing focus on genetic medicines to drive growth. (APMHE 65354
The U.S. biotech's investigational drug, AT132, is being developed to treat a rare muscular disorder which results in extreme muscle weakness, respiratory failure and in some cases, early death. Audentes has previously said it is on track to file AT132 in the U.S. in mid 2020.