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TOPIC: Astellas buying again

Astellas buying again 14 Feb 2018 08:23 #11298

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Astellas has bought out a U.S. biotech that promises to do away with the testing needed to ensure cell therapy products aren’t rejected by a patient’s immune system.

The Japanese pharma company is paying $102.5 million for Universal Cells, claiming ownership of the Seattle-based biotech just a few months after it signed a $9 million upfront licensing deal to apply its off-the-shelf cell technology to a single, undisclosed disease indication. The total value of the deal depends on certain clinical milestones.

Universal is developing a platform technology that uses recombinant adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors to edit the genomes of pluripotent stem cells by switching off human leukocyte antigen (HLA) expression in a way that does not cause ‘off-target’ DNA cutting—which could lead to unintended effects. The resulting universal donor cells don’t require donor matching or immune-suppressing therapy and don’t stimulate rejection, according to the biotech.

“The acquisition combines Astellas' capability of establishing differentiated functional cells from pluripotent stem cells with Universal Cell's ability to produce pluripotent stem cells that have lower immunological rejection,” said the Japanese drugmaker in a statement. Universal Cells has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Astellas following the close of the acquisition.

Astellas has been building a stake in the emerging cell therapy market of late, cutting a deal to develop cell-based cancer immunotherapies with Bellicum in 2015 and paying $379 million to buy stem cell company Ocata Therapeutics the following year. The latter deal prompted the formation of the Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine (AIRM) in May 2016.

By buying Universal Cells Astellas also inherits its existing collaboration with Adaptimmune for off-the-shelf T cell cancer immunotherapies, signed in 2015, and a 2016 alliance with Healios to create cell therapies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The push into cell therapies is just part of an M&D drive for the Japanese company, which has also added to its stable with deals for Mitobridge and its Duchenne muscular dystrophy candidate and G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) specialist Ogeda Pharma in the last few months.


The reverse conclusion that one can draw is that using "untreated" donor cells, they do fear unwanted HLA reactions- another way to do that is by using exosomes i.e. the smallest matter having similar impact as pluripotent cells but which do not have DNA and RNA. :whistle:

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Board moderator and Site-owner. I still regret the day I started analysing the prospects of MacroPore (now Cytori) back in 2004- a left-over from the tech-bubble at that time from the century change in my portfolio- and became addicted to Cytori´s fat cell technology. :cry:

Astellas buying again 14 Feb 2018 08:50 #11300

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They always stay away from Cytori though....that has been sad. We will never know why.
I wonder if the even approached CC about a possible buyout and what the price may have been...something we likely would have been dismayed about all those years ago but would dream of today.
As far as the Azaya tech....CA sure, maybe even in 18 months or so with the right partner but cell therapy, I agree with WST, many years away. Yet to be scene if and how much the chemo trade can support the new research.

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Astellas buying again 14 Feb 2018 08:50 #11301

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Fas, any chance Astellas gets a renewed interest in CYTX?

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Astellas buying again 14 Feb 2018 10:20 #11302

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rodney.strongg wrote: Fas, any chance Astellas gets a renewed interest in CYTX?


Possibly when the ANDRESU results are decent- they have a strong presence in urology and nephrology, so who knows and a partner would be needed to market the app.
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Board moderator and Site-owner. I still regret the day I started analysing the prospects of MacroPore (now Cytori) back in 2004- a left-over from the tech-bubble at that time from the century change in my portfolio- and became addicted to Cytori´s fat cell technology. :cry:
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