Targets acquired

A look at a few recent acquisition deals in the pharma world

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Leading off this collection of recent acquisition deals is news on Jan. 30 from Cambridge, U.K-based Abcam plc that it had purchased the gene-editing platform and oncology product portfolio of Milpitas, Calif.-based Applied StemCell Inc. (ASC) for life-sciences research and diagnostic markets. Abcam notes that ASC is a long-established leader in the edited cell lines market, focused on developing genome-editing technologies into novel therapeutics to advance drug discovery, and pointed out that the deal expands Abcam’s cell-engineering capabilities, “adding comprehensive gene-editing capabilities and engine to drive expansion of Abcam’s ‘off-the-shelf’ edited cell line portfolio.”
Over the last 11 years, ASC has established a global reputation for solving the most difficult knock-out and knock-in cell line development challenges, according to Abcam, and they have successfully deployed their proprietary cell-editing platform to create cell lines for a broad range of diseases to support the life-science and diagnostics industries as well as to advance therapeutic drug discovery.
The transaction includes a portfolio of cell lines and the well-regarded AccuRef reference materials product line. The AccuRef product line uses ASC gene-edited cell lines to mimic cancer mutations and create biologically relevant quality control and reference standards that span over 40 cancer genes. These materials are used by laboratories and kit providers for next-generation sequencing, sanger sequencing, PCR and FISH/CISH testing.
“We are excited to expand and cement Abcam’s position in the edited cell line market, bringing in one of the most widely deployed and technically successful cell engineering platforms into the Abcam family,” said Cheri Walker, senior vice president of corporate development at Abcam. “The cell line market is in the early stages of development as a research tool, where the ready provision of more choice, with the right gene targets in the right cell lines, will allow the market to rapidly expand.”
Abcam will expand the ASC platform to become its discovery engine for developing novel edited cell lines, building upon the extensive range of knock-out cell lines acquired through the Edigene transaction in 2019. Ready-made knock-out cell lines play a significant role in the study and understanding of biological pathways and disease models.
Commented Ruby Tsai, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Applied StemCell: “Following our strategic decision to focus on stem cell and derivative service and products for both research and therapeutic applications, we are pleased to be transitioning our oncology-focused services and products to the global team at Abcam. As recognized industry leaders in the provision of biologic reagents and tools, Abcam is ideally placed to provide expert support to our global user-base.”

BioNTech to acquire Neon and strengthen position in T cell market
MAINZ, Germany & CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—BioNTech and Neon Therapeutics Inc. have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which BioNTech will acquire Neon in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $67 million, combining two companies “with a common culture of pioneering translational science and a shared vision for the future of cancer immunotherapy.”
Neon is a biotechnology company developing novel neoantigen-based T cell therapies. Upon closing, it will operate as a subsidiary of BioNTech, a global clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on patient-specific immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases.
“This acquisition fits with our strategy to expand our capabilities and build our presence in the U.S. and further strengthens our immunotherapy pipeline,” remarked Dr. Ugur Sahin, co-founder and CEO of BioNTech. “I am particularly excited about the adoptive T cell and neoantigen TCR therapies being developed by Neon, which are complementary to our pipeline and our focus on solid tumors.”
Added Hugh O’Dowd, CEO of Neon: “We are very proud of all we have accomplished since we founded Neon, and look forward to joining forces with BioNTech to continue to build a business that provides life-changing immunotherapy products to patients battling a variety of cancers.”
Neon has deep expertise in the development of neoantigen therapies, with both vaccine and T cell capabilities. Neon’s most advanced program is NEO-PTC-01, a personalized neoantigen-targeted T cell therapy candidate consisting of multiple T cell populations targeting the most therapeutically relevant neoantigens from each patient’s tumor. Neon is also advancing a precision T cell therapy program targeting shared neoantigens in genetically defined patient populations. The lead program from this approach, NEO-STC-01, is a T cell therapy candidate targeting shared RAS neoantigens. In addition, Neon has assembled libraries of high-quality TCRs against various shared neoantigens across common human leukocyte antigens.
Neon’s pipeline is underpinned by its platform technologies, including RECON, its machine-learning bioinformatics platform, and NEO-STIM, its proprietary process to directly prime, activate and expand neoantigen-targeting T cells ex vivo.
The transaction was unanimously approved by both BioNTech’s and Neon’s boards of directors. The transaction, which is expected to close during the second quarter of 2020, is subject to approval of Neon’s shareholders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

Recipharm receives clearance from Germany to acquire Consort Medical
STOCKHOLM—Toward the end of last year, Recipharm AB set out the full terms and conditions of its recommended cash offer to acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Consort Medical plc. The offer remained subject to, among other things, approval from the competition authority in Germany, which Recipharm received in early December.
Completion of the offer remains subject to other outstanding conditions, such as the Irish antitrust condition and the acceptance condition, as set out in the offer document.
Recipharm is a contract development and manufacturing organization in the pharmaceutical industry employing almost 7,000 employees, offering manufacturing services of pharmaceuticals in various dosage forms, production of clinical trial material and active pharmaceutical ingredients, as well as pharmaceutical product development.

Waters to acquire Andrew Alliance
MILFORD, Mass.—Mid-January brought news that Waters Corp. had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Andrew Alliance, an innovator in specialty laboratory automation technology, including software and robotics. Andrew Alliance’s cloud-native software platform and modern interface dramatically improves the use of automation technology, enabling more scientists to realize the advantages of repeatability and performance for both routine and complex laboratory workflows.
“The acquisition of Andrew Alliance broadens our technology portfolio to include advanced robotics and software that will positively impact our customers’ workflows across pharmaceuticals, life-sciences and materials science markets,” commented Chris O’Connell, chairman and CEO of Waters. “This move also demonstrates Waters’ commitment to deploy capital to growth-oriented acquisitions that reinforce our specialty strategy and enhance our core business.”
Andrew Alliance has approximately 40 employees in Switzerland, France and the United States.
“We are thrilled to join the Waters family,” said Piero Zucchelli, CEO of Andrew Alliance. “We have found the right partner to bring our vision of connected laboratories to life. Waters’ combination of instruments and chemistries will help us accelerate the delivery of our innovative software and hardware technologies to customers as mass spectrometry increasingly moves into the hands of more and more users.”

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