bacTRAP, do it again
OSAKA, Japan—On Nov. 6, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., a one-time investor and long-term collaborator of Envoy Therapeutics Inc., made those relationships more permanent with the announcement that it will acquire privately held Envoy for the total consideration of $140 million.
That sum includes upfront and progress-dependent preclinical milestone payments, and will be paid by Takeda’s wholly owned subsidiary, Takeda America Holdings Inc., giving the company 100-percent equity in Envoy.
When Envoy raised its Series A financing in 2009, Takeda was one of three initial investors in the company. By 2010, the two companies formed a three-year research alliance aimed at discovering safer and more effective drugs for schizophrenia.
“Our investors had the expectation that we would do a couple of rounds of financing, and we were actually contemplating conducting a Series B financing this year to advance our pipeline into the clinic,” Robert Middlebrook, Envoy’s chief financial officer, tells ddn, “but these discussions started happening in parallel to that. After working with our scientists for a couple of years as an investor, then a board member, then as a collaborator, they got to know our technology and ability to execute very well.”
Since then, “it has been clear to us that Envoy’s scientific excellence in combination with their vision for the utilization of bacTRAP technology have great potential to create and explore truly innovative targets across multiple therapeutic areas,” said Dr. Paul Chapman, general manager of Takeda’s pharmaceutical research division, said in the press release announcing the deal.
Envoy’s bacTRAP technology combines genetic engineering with molecular biology techniques for labeling and extracting the protein-making components of specific types of cells. The technology is especially powerful in the brain, where many hundreds of cell types are intermingled, but is applicable to therapeutic areas beyond the central nervous system (CNS), says Middlebrook.
“Our current focus is on CNS diseases because bacTRAP is so prevalent in the brain, and since Takeda already has preclinical programs across a broad range of CNS areas, we view our programs as complementary,” he says. “Our programs have focused on cognition-impaired conditions like Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, addiction and pain, but the technology is applicable in any tissue of the body.”
Takeda’s expertise and resources “will enable the widespread application of Envoy’s bacTRAP technology,” said Mr. Brad Margus, CEO and director of Envoy, in a statement. “Our scientists are thrilled by the opportunity to deploy bacTRAP’s unique capabilities across numerous new therapeutic areas.”
Envoy will continue operations at its Jupiter, Fla., location through the first quarter of 2013, after which nearly two-thirds of its 21 employees will relocate to Takeda’s facilities in La Jolla, Calif., according to Middlebrook.
Envoy’s Florida operations were located adjacent to the campus of the Scripps Research Institute, whose scientists enjoyed a strategic relationship with the company, using their high-throughput, robotic systems and chemical libraries to screen hundreds of thousands of chemical compounds for activation or inhibition of the biological targets that Envoy scientists identified.